A 2012 Senate race between Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine (D) and former Sen. George Allen (R) would start in a dead heat, according to a new poll.

Numbers from Democratic leaning Public Policy Polling show the two deadlocked at 47 percent. That's actually a slight drop for Kaine, who previously led Allen 50 percent to 44 percent.

While Kaine's favorables have improved since November — he now is seen favorably by 46 percent of Virginia voters — the poll found Allen with a sizable lead among independent voters, 50 percent to 41 percent.

The poll surveyed 524 Virginia voters and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

If Kaine does not run, the advantage would shift to Allen and Republicans.

In the absence of Kaine, Allen leads two former Democratic representatives who are rumored challengers. Allen leads former Rep. Tom Perriello 48 percent to 41 percent, and former Rep. Rick Boucher 47 percent to 42 percent.

Kaine is widely seen as the best option for Virginia Democrats, and is expected to make a decision in the coming days on whether or not to launch a bid.

Allen still faces a potentially competitive and crowded Republican primary. But Tea Party activist Jamie Radtke, who was the first Republican to jump in the race, trails all potential Democratic challengers and is an unknown commodity to the vast majority of Virginia voters — 82 percent of voters don't know her.

Pollster Tom Jensen also teased numbers set for release Wednesday on the 2012 presidential race that he said show President Obama in "very solid position" to win the state again next year.