Via Conservative Intel, it’s yet another polling blow for the Cuccinelli camp in the decidedly negative and now Democratic-leaning Virginia gubernatorial race. Interestingly, a few of the previous polls on the contest haven’t actually bothered to include the Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis but he does seem to having some effect on the race:

To: Conservative Intel
From: Brock McCleary, Harper Polling
Date: September 17, 2013
Re: Virginia Governor Poll

Our survey shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli 42%-37% in a race that is being heavily affected by Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, who is polling at 10%

As a Libertarian, the assumption that Sarvis is siphoning votes from Republican Cuccinelli is only partly true. Sarvis’ support on the ballot comes from 4% of Democrats, 7% of Republicans and 18% of independent or third party voters, some of whom are undoubtedly Libertarians. …

Sarvis’ supporters hold largely negative opinions about the two other candidates: 19% have a favorable opinion of Cuccinelli and 12% have a favorable opinion of McAuliffe; 64% have an unfavorable opinion of Cuccinelli and 71% have an unfavorable opinion of McAuliffe. A slight edge goes to Cuccinelli in the fight for Sarvis’ supporters.

As the pollsters note, however, third-party candidates often do better in polls than they do at the actual ballot box, which means that the migration-or-abstention of Sarvis’s 10 percent of voters combined with the still undecided 11 percent of voters could still change up this race — but that will be quite the challenge, considering that very few voters have strongly favorable opinions about either the Democrat or the Republican.

Earlier in the year, this race was looking very much in the winnable category for Cuccinelli, but particularly Gov. Bob McDonnell’s gifts scandal and McAuliffe’s many years of well-developed fundraising abilities are overpowering the Cuccinelli camp’s efforts — and the criticisms of Cuccinelli as an uncompromising and hard-line social conservative to which all of that cash is going unfortunately seem to be finding their marks.

The Republican Governors Association has spent $3.45 million on TV through roughly the end of last week, according to a media tracking source. They provided another $3 million directly to the Cuccinelli campaign, which has in turn spent $3.5 million on TV ads. The conservative Citizens United dropped $284,000 attacking McAuliffe.

On the other side, McAuliffe has spent $6.3 million on TV and the state Democratic Party has spent another $2.9 million. NextGen Climate Action, the political activism arm of billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, has spent $714,000 and the National Education Association has spent more than a quarter-million dollars. The Democratic Governors Association has directly transferred $3.2 million to the McAuliffe campaign, and has spent additional money on polling and research.

Through the end of June, Cuccinelli raised $7.7 million for the race and McAuliffe raised $12.7 million.

In perhaps a weirdly useful turn of events for Cuccinelli, however, the Obama administration is slated to roll out their big coal-restricting regulations by the end of the week, and they are going to make it practically impossible and not cost-effective for energy companies to build new coal plants. The national news could helpl turn the issue into an even bigger bludgeon with which Cuccinelli could hammer McAuliffe’s say-anything, flip-flopping attitude toward business and energy. The new regs are going to have to force some type of response out of him, and the administration’s anti-coal agenda does not play at all well in some major areas of Virginia:

The two candidates, Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, are prototypes: A Republican lobbing coal attacks and a Democrat alleging climate denialism in his opponent.

Fueling the dispute, the state chapter of the League of Conservation Voters has donated $900,000 directly to McAuliffe’s campaign, the group and the campaign confirmed to ABC News, making it the largest donation to McAuliffe’s campaign not to come from the Democratic Governors Association.

Cuccinelli and Republicans have been hammering McAuliffe for allegedly participating in a Democratic Party “war on coal,” a leftover meme from the 2012 presidential campaign that has been given new life in Virginia with the Environmental Protection Agency pending release of new emissions caps for coal and gas power plants Thursday.