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Senator Allen's lead shrinks 6 points after 'macaca' remark

Published: Saturday August 19, 2006

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According to the latest polling by Rasmussen Reports, Republican Virginia Senator George Allen's lead has shrunk six points since before he referred to a young man of Indian descent working for his opponent Democratic challenger James Webb as "macaca," RAW STORY has learned.

"Senator George Allen's alleged slur of an opposition campaign worker of Indian descent, recorded on video, has provoked a furious controversy in the state," reports Rasmussen. "In the wake of the controversy, support for Allen has dipped below the 50% mark for the first time this year."

Allen now only leads Webb 47% to 42%, six points less since the last poll in July.

"Based upon this latest poll, Rasmussen Reports is shifting Virginia from Republican to Leans Republican in our Senate Balance of Power summary," the site continues.

Allen's favorability rating dropped seven points since July, from 64% to 57%.

Webb has apparently benefitted from the "viral video" recorded by the 20-year-old campaign worker S.R. Sidarth.

A front page story in Saturday's Washington Post says that the controversy has "given Democrats new hope in a race many thought would be difficult to win in the historically conservative state."

"Before this week, I thought it would be a very tough race for Jim Webb," a self-described Democratic banker tells the Post. "This week has just added fuel on the fire as far as I am concerned."

"One concern after Webb's primary victory was whether he could bring in the black voters who went for Harris Miller in the primary," writes blogger Ezra Klein. "I don't know whether slurs directed at an Indian-American will motivate blacks to vote against Allen, but if it reinforces the image of Allen as a racist, it probably helps."

The Republican Senator had "singled out" the young campaign worker assigned to videotape his speeches as he spoke at a rally in southwestern Virginia last Friday.

"Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here," Allen said. "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

Allen later apologized to anyone who was offended by the word which he claimed to have made up in reference to the 20-year-old's hair-cut which he thought looked like a mohawk.

"Macaca" is used by some cultures as a slur against African immigrants or can also refer to a genus of monkey.

"According to two Republicans who heard the word used, 'macaca' was a mash-up of 'Mohawk,' referring to Sidarth's distinctive hair, and 'caca,' Spanish slang for excrement, or 'shit,'" reported National Journal's Hotline.