McAuliffe Leads In VA Race, Though Neither Candidate Polls Favorably

McAuliffe Leads In VA Race, Though Neither Candidate Polls Favorably

Another poll, another headache for Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP nominee for governor of Virginia.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday finds Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli 46 percent to 39 percent. The poll shows that Cuccinelli’s popularity decline may be self-inflicted: While 47 percent of Virginians believe the government shutdown hurt their state, it has not affected how Virginians will vote in the gubernatorial race, the poll found. Thus, it seems that Cuccinelli cannot blame Washington dysfunction and the national Republican Party for his sinking poll numbers.

Fervent support for either candidate is slim among likely voters, but McAuliffe has a strong lead among women and near-unanimous support among Democrats. Virginians are now turning to Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate, in greater numbers; Sarvis now polls at 10 percent among likely voters.

Women back McAuliffe 49 to 35 percent, with Sarvis getting 10 percent support. Sarvis also peels away a crucial percentage of likely Republican voters from Cuccinelli: Republicans support Cuccinelli over McAuliffe 81 percent to 6 percent, but 11 percent of likely Republican voters now back Sarvis. In contrast, McAuliffe’s Democratic base has remained overwhelmingly loyal — 92 percent of likely Democratic voters back McAuliffe.

Cuccinelli’s inability to lock down his party’s full support may well be the deciding factor in the gubernatorial race.

“Generally over the past decades, especially in southern states like Virginia, Republicans win when they have strong party allegiance among their base. One reason McAuliffe is ahead is that he wins 92 percent of Democrats while Cuccinelli has only 81 percent of Republicans. If Cuccinelli can’t bring more Republicans home, he is likely to be toast,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute.

Despite McAuliffe’s strong support within the Democratic Party, neither he nor Cuccinelli receive a positive favorability rating from likely Virginia voters. McAuliffe earned a negative rating of 39 to 43 percent. Virginians view Cuccinelli even more unfavorably, by a margin of 38 to 52 percent.

With the election scheduled for less than two weeks from now, both candidates are making last-ditch efforts to shore up as much support as possible.

McAuliffe, a longtime fundraiser for and supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, will campaign with the former president in Richmond and around Virginia this Sunday. Clinton’s campaign stops will be part of McAuliffe’s “Putting Jobs First” initiative.

Other national political figures have played an outsized role in helping the McAuliffe campaign; Independent New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent $1.1 million of his own money on attack ads that paint Cuccinelli as a radical on the issue of gun control.

Cuccinelli has also sought campaign help from national political figures from his party. Rick Santorum, who endorsed Cuccinelli last year, will lead a “strike force” in the days leading up to the election — his Patriot Voices PAC is soliciting supporters who will go door to door in Virginia to help turn out the vote for Cuccinelli.

Cuccinelli also recently welcomed Texas senator Ted Cruz to a campaign event, and next Monday — a day before the election — will hold two rallies with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).

It’s clear now, that despite another negative poll, Cuccinelli isn’t going to change the trajectory of his campaign.

Gage Skidmore via Flickr


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