This article presents an unbiased comparison of the political positions and policies of Tim Kaine and George Allen, Democrat and Republican candidates respectively for the 2012 Senate elections in the commonwealth of Virginia.

Tim Kaine defeated George Allen to win the election.

Both are seasoned politicians; Kaine was the Governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010. George Allen was the Governor of Virginia from 1994 to 1998 and the Senator from Virginia from 2001 to 2007. He lost the re-election bid to Democrat Jim Webb in the 2006 race that became controversial due to his racist "maccaca" remark. He twice called S.R. Sidarth, an Indian-American, who was filming the event as a "tracker" for the opposing Webb campaign, a macaca (a racial slur).

Comparison chart

George Allen versus Tim Kaine comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartGeorge AllenTim Kaine
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  • current rating is 3.53/5
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George AllenTim Kaine
Energy Policy Supports fully using domestic energy sources for oil, coal and natural gas; supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Supports clean energy technologies; transition to a lower-carbon energy portfolio and energy conservation; approved exploratory drilling for natural gas off the coast of Virginia
Political Party Republican Democrat
Date of birth March 8, 1952 February 26, 1958
Position on the Economy Authored a Balanced Federal Budget amendment; favors a flat tax; supports government spending cuts; signed the Cut-Cap-and-Balance Pledge Supports stimulus spending, targeted budget cuts rather than across the board cuts in govt spending, progressive taxation (higher income people pay at a higher rate), and letting Bush tax cuts expire for those making $500, 000+
Religion Presbyterian Roman Catholic
Position on Healthcare Repeal Obamacare; Don't allow the federal govt to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers for Medicare Part D Supports Obamacare; wants to allow federal govt to negotiate bulk purchase discounts from drug manufacturers; championed a ban on smoking in public places.
Position on Immigration Favors immigration of skilled labor; against providing undocumented aliens a path to legal status; opposes the DREAM Act; supports a fence on the Mexican border. Believes undocumented workers should pay a fine but be given a path to legal status; supports the DREAM Act
Position on Gun Control Strong supporter of gun rights and the right to carry concealed weapons, including assault weapons. A+ rating from NRA Supports the Second Amendment but in favor of some gun control measures like not allowing mentally ill individuals or convicted felons access to guns.
Position on Abortion Supports overturning Roe v. Wade; believes life begins at conception; opposes the mandate for insurance plans to cover contraception; opposes embryonic stem cell research. Supports Roe v. Wade and the mandate for insurance plans to cover contraception.
Position on Environment Voted against including oil and gas smokestacks in mercury regulations; opposes funding to stop global warming; as Governor provided $75 million to clean up the Chesapeake Bay but eliminated water toxins monitoring program for mercury & PCBs As Governor supported the preservation of more than 400,000 acres of open space; championed allocation of $1 billion into wastewater treatment
Position on Education Strongly supports charter schools; proponent of School Choice Initiatives; introduced the "Flexibility for Champion Schools Act" Supports reform to early childhood education, K-12 curriculums, and technical education; proposes making college more affordable
Position on Iraq Supported use of military force against Iraq; supported $86 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; in favor of more troops in Iraq Critical of Iraq war blaming it on poor civilian decision-making and of Congress; supports troops withdrawal
Occupation Politician Lawyer, Politician
Logo of Republican(Elephant) and Democratic (Donkey) parties
Logo of Republican(Elephant) and Democratic (Donkey) parties

Early Life and Career

Allen was born in California. His father was a legendary football coach. Allen wore a Confederate flag pin for his high school senior class photo; his car also had the Confederate flag in the front license plate frame. He attended UCLA for one year in 1970 and then transferred to the University of Virginia to complete a B.A. degree in history. In 1977 he completed a J.D. from Univ. of Virginia School of Law. He was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1982 to 1991 and a member of the US House of Representatives from 1991-1992. He was elected Governor of Virginia in 1994 and to the US Senate in 2001. Between his stints as governor and senator, he worked with private sector firms in the 1998-2001 period. Allen married Anne Patrice Rubel in June 1979. They divorced in 1983. Since 1986 Allen has been married to Susan Brown.

Kaine was born in Minnesota. He graduated from the University of Missouri with a B.A. in economics in 1979. He attended Harvard Law School, taking a year-long break during law school to work with the Jesuit order as a Catholic missionary in Honduras, and graduating in 1983. Kaine has had a law career before entering politics; he practiced law in Richmond for 17 years, specializing in representing people who had been denied housing opportunities because of their race or disability. He also taught legal ethics for six years at the University of Richmond Law School. He was elected mayor of Richmond by the city council in 1998. He spent seven years on the city council, including two terms as mayor. From 2002-2006, he was lieutenant governor for Virginia. From 2006-2010, he served as Governor. Kaine has been married to Anne Holton since 1984.

Gubernatorial Legacy

Both candidates are former Virginia governors so it's important to consider their gubernatorial record. Highlights of George Allen's term (1994-1998) included an overhaul of state welfare system and a sentencing law that barred parole in the state for violent felons. Highlights from Tim Kaine's term (2006-2010)include a transportation initiative to help congested Northern Virginia roads and the biggest higher-education bond issue in state history.

Differences in Economic Policy

Kaine's economic plan calls for targeted budget cuts rather than across-the-board cuts in government spending. Defense and healthcare being the major areas of expense, so Kaine wants to find ways to cut spending there. His proposals include reducing the number of military bases around the world, using new technology weapons to reduce the number of humans required, and negotiating drug prices with manufacturers to save money for Medicare Part D. Kaine has said that for every two-to-three dollars in spending cuts, there should be a dollar of revenue increases.[1]

Allen's economic plan calls for cutting the corporate tax rate, leveraing domestic sources of energy (oil, natural gas, coal), cutting government spending and reducing government regulation. He has proposed a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment, with line-item veto authority, and limiting government spending to 19 percent of GDP.

When the June 1, 2012 jobs report was released, the results were disappointing and the stock market experienced a substantial dip. The two candidates offered slightly different takes on the situation. Democrat Tim Kaine said: “It’s good that private sector jobs have grown for 27 straight months after our nation lost jobs for 25 months. But, growth is too slow and unemployment is too high." Republican George Allen said: "Today’s disappointing jobs report is another reminder that the over-regulating, over-spending policies coming out of Washington continue to diminish opportunities for Americans."[2][3]

Tax Policy

Kaine supports letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for those making $500,000 or more. He opposes tax subsidies to oil companies. Allen favors a reduction in the corporate tax rate to under 25% from the current 35% level. He also supports a "flat tax" regime where the tax rate does not increase as income levels go up.

Allen is against the "Buffett Rule" that would require individuals earning more than $1 million to pay at least 30% federal income tax. Kaine has said he supports the rule but he wouldn't focus on it because it's like “tripping over dollar bills to pick up pennies.”[4] Allen has also proposed reducing the income tax rate to 20% on business that are creating jobs.[5]

Sales tax for e-commerce

When asked whether companies selling goods online should have to pay sales taxes in states where they don’t have offices or stores, Allen was opposed to changing the law while Kaine said "We’re going to have a more vigorous sales tax [collection] for Internet sales."[6]

Estate tax

George Allen has advocated the permanent repeal of the federal estate tax, which he and other Republicans call the "death tax". The tax is applicable to estates larger than $5 million (or $10 million for married couples) passed on to heirs. Inheritance larger than this threshold is taxed at 35%.

Tim Kaine has said he had no position yet on a permanent elimination of the estate tax nationally, even though as governor he signed into law a bill repealing Virginia's estate tax. He has questioned the need to eliminate the tax for billionaires.[7][8]

Stimulus Spending and Bailouts

Kaine supported stimulus spending bills; Allen is opposed to stimulus spending. Kaine believes that the government should spend money on infrastructure and education to fight the recession by creating jobs in the short term.

Kaine's campaign has criticized Allen for siding with the Tea Party’s call for budget cuts in exchange for disaster relief, alleging that this holds "disaster funding hostage in order to further their ideological agenda".[9]

Social Security

George Allen supports President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. Kaine does not support privatization.[10]

Kaine is opposed to gradually raising the retirement age but Allen supports it. Kaine supports raising the cap on income that is subject to payroll taxes (currently $106,000).[11]

Right to work

Virginia is a right to work state (technically, commonwealth) i.e. union membership is not a pre-condition for employment. President Obama has criticized the law as an excuse to pay lower wages. While Kaine is not opposed to the right-to-work statute, Republicans have tried to associate him with President Obama and criticized him for not defending the law.[12]


Kaine has proposed that regulations on smaller "community" banks be eased so that small businesses can get loans more easily.[13]

Allen supports a presidential line item veto and has said he would work toward a balanced budget amendment if elected.[14]

Healthcare Policy

Kaine supports the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare). Allen does not; he calls it an overreach by the government, with an unconstitutional individual mandate, and has called for it to be repealed. Here are some highlights from their record as elected officials:

In an interview with Newsmax, Allen said that he favors a "health savings account" approach where individuals own their own policies and can take them from job to job. He also supports small businesses owners being able to pool together across state lines to get more affordable insurance. Allen also said he is against expanding the role of the federal government in Medicaid.

Social Issues

The two candidates fall into predictable liberal and conservative buckets on social issues.


Allen opposes abortion, believes life begins at conception and advocates that Roe v Wade be overturned. He has a 100 percent rating from National Right to Life group. He is in favor of parental consent for teens; against federal funding for abortions; in favor of adult stem-cell research; and against embryonic research. Kaine supports Roe v. Wade even though he says his religious views cause him to be personally against abortions. In recent weeks, Allen has opposed the contraceptives mandate that sought to ensure employers that provide health insurance to their employees cover contraception in these plans. Kaine has spoken out in favor of the mandate.

In their first debate, there was a major gaffe for Allen during which he did not seem to understand how contraception works nor the full impact of the personhood amendment that he supports. Here is a video:


Allen opposes the mandate for health insurance plans to cover contraceptives, citing religious freedom.[15] Kaine supports the mandate but has said Obama’s exemption for requiring contraception coverage should have been a bit broader when it was first announced.[16]


Kaine supports the DREAM Act that provides conditional permanent residency to certain undocumented aliens who arrived in the US as minors, have good moral character and who graduate from US high schools. He supports offering a path to legal status to undocumented workers after they admit wrongdoing and pay a fine.[17]

Allen has a more hardline stance against immigration. He opposes the DREAM Act; is in favor of establishing English as the official national language; supports building a fence along the Mexican border; opposes giving undocumented workers a path to citizenship; and voted against allowing undocumented aliens to participate in Social Security. He does support increasing the immigration quota for computer scientists and other information technology workers.

Both candidates support making it easier for foreign students to live and work in the U.S. after graduating from U.S. universities. [18]

Gay Rights

Kaine supports equal rights for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation. He supports the rights of gay couples to get married, adopt children and the rights of gay individuals serving openly in the military. He has called for "relationship equality" to be a formal Democratic party platform.[19]

Allen supports a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage and opposes same-sex couples adopting children. He supports reinstating "Don't ask, don't tell.". George Allen voted against legislation to add sexual orientation to federal hate crimes laws in 2005. Allen did try to distance himself from the state GOP when they blocked the judicial nomination of a Richmond prosecutor because the prosecutor is gay. His position is that it's wrong to discriminate based on sexual orientation but he did not take a position on whether that is indeed what happened in this case.[20][21]

Here's a YouTube video of the candidates talking about gun control in their second debate.

Women's Rights

Kaine claims to be "a strong supporter of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which guarantees equal pay for equal work." Kaine supports a gender pay equality bill but Allen has not yet taken a position on it and has been criticized for not doing so.[22]

Education Policy

George Allen supports homeschooling and curtailing the role of the federal government in public education, letting states play a stronger role in education policy. He also supports school choice and voucher programs.

During his tenure as Governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine championed and a $2 billion higher-ed bond package to fund colleges and universities across the state.

Gun Control

Both candidates are supporters of the Second Amendment but Allen has an A+ rating and a formal endorsement from the NRA.[23] As Governor, he signed "Right to Carry" concealed weapons legislation entitling any citizen 21 or older with no criminal record to a concealed carry permit. In his previous stint as US senator, he voted against the renewal of the “Assault Weapons Ban” and introduced legislation to allow concealed carry in National Parks.[24]

Kaine claims to have served as legal counsel to the effort to guarantee Virginians the right to hunt and fish. He was responsible for "common sense reforms" to gun laws in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy that occurred during his tenure as Governor. He wants gun control rules to make it impossible for felons and the dangerously mentally ill cannot improperly purchase weapons. Kaine was also involved in a controversy during his term as mayor of Richmond when he used $6,000 of public money for buses to the Million Mom March promoting gun restrictions.

In their second debate, which happened just a few days after the Batman shooting rampage in Colorado, both candidates advocated better background checks to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. Allen even praised Kaine's handling as governor of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history at Virginia Tech in April 2007.[25]

Veterans Affairs

The Kaine campaign has accused Allen of "repeatedly opposing resources for veterans health care and voting for increased TRICARE co-pays."[26]

Death Penalty

Allen supports capital punishment and presided over 24 executions during his term as governor. Kaine opposes capital punishment, citing his faith, but presided over 11 executions as governor. He has supported a moratorium on executions.

Differences in Foreign Policy

Position on Iraq

George Allen supported use of military force against Iraq; supported $86 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; and is in favor of more troops in Iraq. Tim Kaine was critical of the Iraq war blaming it on poor civilian decision-making and on Congress; he supports the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Energy Policy

George Allen supports exploring proven energy reserves and keeping energy prices low; he called for rolling back the federal gas tax; voted in favor of terminating Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard; and supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He has said that wind and other alternative energy projects are expensive and untried and that the nation should focus on conventional fuels such as oil, coal and nuclear energy.[27] He has also proposed expanding offshore drilling for oil and gas and using the royalties for roads and transportation infra. Allen also proposed not allowing the EPA to ban the use of coal for generating electricity.[28] He supports coal mining in Virginia.[29]

Tim Kaine supports clean energy technologies; transition to a lower-carbon energy portfolio and energy conservation; he approved exploratory drilling for natural gas off the coast of Virginia.

At a statewide forum of the Virginia Farm Bureau in Lynchburg in July 2012[30],

Kaine said he accepts the premise of global warming caused by humans, and Allen flatly rejected it. "I do accept the science that human activity is affecting the climate," Kaine said, noting widespread droughts and heat that has crippled corn yields across the nation's parched midsection. Allen's answer: "I'd like to be the deciding vote to say to the EPA, 'No, you're not going to be regulating CO2 (carbon dioxide)."

Dulles Rail

When he was governor, Kaine got construction started on Phase I of Dulles Rail following decades of inaction. Kaine has credited the Bush administration for awarding more than $900 million in federal aid for the project’s first phase; he has also complimented Allen for supporting the project when he was in the Senate. Kaine has made infrastructure investments a central part of his economic vision and has pledged to fight for federal support for Dulles Rail if he is elected to the U.S. Senate.

While Allen supports the project, his campaign has criticized what they call “the ongoing mismanagement, skyrocketing tolls and cost overruns associated with the project are a direct result of the decisions that Tim Kaine made as governor.”[31]

Campaign Financing

Allen and Kaine differ in their opinions on campaign financing. Kaine has proposed that identities of donors to "Super PACs" be disclosed calling for "No Secret Money" but Allen has rejected the idea.[32]


1st debate, Dec. 7, 2011

The first Allen-Kaine debate was held on Dec. 7, 2011. Politico's David Catanese declared Kaine the winner of the debate. During the debate, Allen claimed that Kaine was a strong supporter of President Obamas policies that in his opinion had failed. Kaine countered that Allen had voted for off-the-books spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Medicare Part D expansion, tax cuts and debt ceiling increases and called them "time bombs" that caused problems now. [33]

Here are some videos from the debate:

July 21, 2012 Debate

The second debate between George Allen and Tim Kaine was held in Hot Springs, Va. on July 21. The event, sponsored by the Virginia Bar Association, was moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley, with some portions televised on her Sunday morning talk show.

The candidates managed a quick handshake and a smile, before the gloves came off and the debate grew acrimonious at times. Each accused the other of name-calling and partisan squabbling even as both tried to show they had worked with members of the opposite party — and could do so again in what has become an increasingly partisan Washington.[34]

The Daily Press summary of the debate reports:

On the health care law, Allen said he would keep provisions like allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance policies until they are 26, but would like to expand health-savings accounts, allow small businesses to "band together across state lines" to find affordable policies for their employees and give states more control over the use of Medicaid dollars. Allen also said, instead of letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire, he would like reform the federal tax code so that it is "fairer," and "simpler," including ideas he said have been proposed like a 20 percent flat tax. Kaine called for letting the Bush-era tax cuts, which he pointed out Allen voted for during his term as a U.S. Senator from 2001 to 2007, expire for people making more than $500,000 a year. Kaine also said this was a distinction between himself and Obama, who has called for ending the tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 annually.

NBC Washington reported that

Early in the debate, Allen and Kaine sketched a few clear policy distinctions. Kaine said he favored a blend of cuts and revenue for reducing federal deficits -- $3 in spending reductions for every $1 of new taxes. Allen, prodded by debate moderator Candy Crowley of CNN, rejected any additional taxes, not even at a ratio of $10 in cuts for every $1 of higher taxes. Kaine said he would allow tax cuts that President George W. Bush put in place to expire on those who earn $500,000 or more a year, double the threshold Obama set. Allen called it a massive tax increase and called for keeping the cuts in place at every income level.

See also:

September 20, 2012 Debate

In the third debate, the clash became personal at times, with Allen's 2006 "Macaca moment" being relived. A notable highlight of the debate was Tim Kaine’s off-the-cuff suggestion about a minimum tax, in response to Mitt Romney's earlier remarks about 47% of Americans not paying any federal income tax. Kaine was promptly criticized for his remarks and backed off his proposal issuing "clarifications". Some snippets from the debate are presented below:

See also

October 8, 2012 Debate

The fourth debate was organized by the League of Women Voters of Virginia and AARP Virgina and took place at the WCVE-TV studio in Midlothian.

October 18 Debate

The final debate between Tim Kaine and George Allen was held on October 18, 2012. The hourlong debate saw each candidate trying to paint the other as an extreme partisan. Analysis and reporting for this final debate can be found on Politico, NBC and Washington Post.


The Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed George Allen and the Virginia Credit Union League (VCUL) has backed Tim Kaine. The VCUL had supported Allen in the same race in 2006. The Kaine campaign has also received support from law enforcement officials such as Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh; Michael Mohler, president of the state's professional firefighters' union; and Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor.[35]

Opinion Poll Ratings

Opinion polls comparing Kaine and Allen suggest that this is an extremely close race with neither candidate maintaining a consistent lead. The Washington Post provides an interesting chart about the opinion poll ratings of Kaine and Allen broken out by issue. Kaine is more popular among voters for whom healthcare and education are the most important issues. Allen is more popular among other voters, including those for whom the economy, immigration or taxes are important.

Poll source Date(s) administered Tim Kaine (D) George Allen (R)
Rasmussen Reports October 18, 2012 49% 48%
Rasmussen Reports October 11, 2012 48% 47%
We Ask America October 7–9, 2012 41% 46%
NBC/WSJ/Marist Poll October 7-9, 2012 47% 46%
Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS October 4-9, 2012 51% 44%
Public Policy Polling October 4–7, 2012 51% 44%
Rasmussen Reports October 4, 2012 52% 45%
NBC/WSJ/Marist Poll Sept 30 – Oct 1, 2012 49% 44%
Suffolk University September 24–26, 2012 44% 44%
Huffpost Politics September 20, 2012 46% 45%
Gravis Marketing September 17, 2012 43% 48%
FOX NEWS Poll September 16–18, 2012 47% 43%
CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac September 11–17, 2012 51% 44%
Public Policy Polling September 13-16, 2012 47% 46%
Washington Post September 12–16, 2012 51% 43%
Rasmussen Reports September 13, 2012 47% 45%
NBC/WSJ/Marist Poll September 9-11, 2012 46% 46%
Gravis Marketing/Capitol Correspondent September 8-9, 2012 43% 48%
Rasmussen Reports August 23, 2012 45% 45%
Public Policy Polling August 16-19, 2012 46% 46%
Rasmussen Reports August 7, 2012 46% 46%
Quinnipiac July 31-August 6, 2012 48% 46%
Rasmussen Reports July 16-17, 2012 46% 45%
Quinnipiac July 10-16, 2012 44% 46%
Public Policy Polling July 5-8, 2012 46% 44%
We Ask America June 25, 2012 35% 44%
Quinnipac May 30 - Jun 4, 2012 44% 43%
Marist May 17-20, 2012 49% 43%
Washington Post Apr 28 - May 2, 2012 46% 46%
Public Policy Polling Apr 26-29, 2012 46% 45%
Rasmussen Reports Apr 23, 2012 45% 46%
Roanoke College Mar 26-Apr 5, 2012 39% 46%
Rasmussen Reports Mar 20, 2012 44% 46%
Quinnipiac Mar 13-18, 2012 47% 44%
NBC News/Marist Feb 29-Mar 2, 2012 48% 39%
Roanoke College Feb 13-26, 2012 37% 45%
Rasmussen Reports Feb 21, 2012 46% 46%
CNU/Times-Dispatch Feb 4-13, 2012 40% 42%
Quinnipiac Feb 1-6, 2012 45% 44%
Mason-Dixon Jan 16-18, 2012 46% 46%
Quinnipiac Dec 13-19, 2011 42% 44%
Public Policy Polling Dec 10-12, 2011 47% 42%
Quinnipiac Oct 3-9, 2011 45% 44%
CNU/Times-Dispatch Oct 3-8, 2011 44% 42%
Rasmussen Reports Sep 28, 2011 46% 45%
Quinnipiac Sep 7-12, 2011 44% 45%
Public Policy Polling Jul 21-24, 2011 46% 43%
Quinnipiac Jun 21-27, 2011 43% 42%
Public Policy Polling May 5-8, 2011 46% 44%
Washington Post Apr 28-May 4, 2011 46% 46%
Public Policy Polling Feb 24-27, 2011 47% 47%
Public Policy Polling Nov 10-13, 2010 50% 44%


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