Key bit from the Ron Brownstein write up of the LA Times polls today:
Breaking the GOP’s grip on socially conservative voters in Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia will be especially challenging. In each of those states, the surveys found that despite extensive doubts about the country’s direction, the Republican candidates are amassing strong margins among rural voters and whites who regularly attend church…
…the polls also found substantial stability in the socially conservative electoral coalition that allowed President Bush to carry four of the five states surveyed in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, a fact that bodes well for the Republican candidates.
Among white men in Missouri, Talent led by 11 percentage points. In Virginia, Allen was ahead by 22 percentage points among this slice of the electorate; in Tennessee, Corker led by 24 points.
Among whites in Missouri who attend church once a week or more, Talent led McCaskill, 65% to 30%. In Tennessee, Corker also easily led among this group, 62% to 29%, even though Ford has stressed his religious faith. Webb trailed Allen in Virginia, 55% to 40%, among white churchgoers.
Among rural voters, Talent led McCaskill, 56% to 37%. Allen topped Webb, 60% to 33%, and Corker outpaced Ford, 62% to 27%.
The large suburban population in northern Virginia places Webb in a better position to overcome these disadvantages than his Democratic counterparts in Tennessee and Missouri. But all three face a tough climb to victory if they do not improve their performance among these typically conservative voting blocs by election day.