New Poll Shows Webb Leading Allen in Virginia Senate Race

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - An opinion poll released Monday suggests that Jim Webb's campaign to unseat Republican Sen. George Allen in Virginia suffered little as a result of criticism of Webb's sexually explicit fiction writing.

Webb now leads Allen, according to the Rasmussen Reports survey of 500 likely voters, conducted Sunday night. The Democrat leads the Republican by five percentage points - up from an Oct. 24 Rasmussen poll, which showed Allen with a two-point lead over Webb.

On Thursday, the Allen campaign released excerpts from several of Webb's novels, criticizing some of the content as sexually explicit and racist.

In one book, Webb included a scene of a father placing his young son's penis in his mouth, a cultural practice Webb defended subsequently as "not a sexual act."

In another, Webb wrote of a stripper performing sexual acts with a banana. When a talk radio host tried to read the passage during an interview with Webb, the former secretary of the Navy said it was "inappropriate" to read on news radio.

Several of Webb's characters frequently use a racial slur for blacks, and in one book he refers to Vietnamese women as "monkey-faced."

But while the Internet was abuzz with the passages, they apparently failed to benefit the Allen campaign.

At the same time, pollster Scott Rasmussen was hesitant to attribute the Webb boost to the weekend's news.

"People always want to say, 'A happened and therefore B was a result of it or the cause of it or something,'" Rasmussen told Cybercast News Service . "I'm not sure that it's that clear-cut. I think what we're seeing is a continuation ... of a nationwide trend that's been tough for the GOP this year."

Rasmussen said to attribute Allen's continued slide to the decision to release the book excerpts "might be overstating it a bit."

See Earlier Stories:
Webb Says His Novels 'Inappropriate' for News Radio (Oct. 27, 2006)

Jim Webb's Books 'Racist, Misogynistic,' Conservative Critic Says (Oct. 27, 2006)

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