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CuccinelliA new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday finds Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s lead over Republican state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli narrowing just a week ahead of the election.

McAuliffe, a businessman and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, holds a 45 percent to 41 percent lead over Cuccinelli, with the Republican up two points since last week’s Quinnipiac poll. Libertarian Robert Sarvis now has the support of 9 percent of likely voters — 1 percent down from the 10 percent he had a week ago. If Sarvis were not running, the poll shows McAuliffe would hold an even tighter 47 percent to 45 percent lead.

In most categories of likely voters, Cuccinelli continues to trail behind McAuliffe. Democrats overwhelmingly back McAuliffe 91 percent to 37 percent, women by 50 to 37 percent, and Independents by 46 percent to 31 percent.

The state attorney general leads among Republicans, 86 percent to 5 percent. Men also support Cuccinelli, 45 percent to 39 percent.

The increasingly tense race between the candidates has been defined primarily by nasty campaigning from both sides. As a result, the two candidates poll unfavorably among Virginians. The poll finds that though McAuliffe has held the lead for weeks now, he maintains a negative favorability rating, 41 percent to 46 percent; Cuccinelli holds a negative 40 percent to 52 percent favorability rating.

Still, Wednesday’s poll offers a glimmer of hope for Cuccinelli.

“For the past several weeks, political pundits have written off Ken Cuccinelli well before any polls have opened or closed, but we have consistently maintained that we know this is a margin race,” Cuccinelli strategist Chris LaCivita said after the poll was released.

Despite Quinnipiac’s most recent findings, McAuliffe still holds a nearly 9 percent lead in RealClearPolitics’ polling average.

Even conservative politicians acknowledge Cuccinelli’s likely fate in the election, which may be attributed to his close ties to the Tea Party and the growing hostility among voters towards the divided GOP.

“Republicans need to ask what’s wrong with our business model here,” former Virginia representative Tom Davis (R) – a Cuccinelli supporter – told The National Journal. “This should have been a slam dunk. Virginia almost always votes against the president’s party … All we needed was a mammal up there.”

Photo: KentonNgo via Flickr

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