Virginia poll: McAuliffe’s lead cut in half, margin of error race
posted at 11:38 am on September 18, 2013 by Guy Benson
With just over a month and a half to go until Election Day, a new poll indicates a close contest in Virginia’s gubernatorial battle. Democratic businessman Terry McAuliffe and Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are basically all knotted up, according to a Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday morning. The poll indicates McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, at 44% among likely commonwealth voters, with Cuccinelli at 41%. The three point margin for McAuliffe, who lost a bid for the 2009 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, is within the survey’s sampling error. McAuliffe held a six point 48%-42% lead over Cuccinelli in the previous Quinnipiac poll, which was conducted in mid-August. And surveys from other organizations also indicated McAuliffe with a single-digit advantage over Cuccinelli. The new poll suggests that Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate who stands at 7%, could hold a key to the November election.
CNN’s characterization of McAuliffe as a “businessman” is a bit generous, but we’ll let it slide. How were they supposed to identify him? Partisan influence peddler and fundraiser? Come to think of it, yes — that would be much more accurate. But I digress. Cuccinelli’s struggles can be directly traced to the gender gap. He trails among women by 14 points, indicating that the McAuliffe campaign’s efforts to paint the Republican as a misogynist have been effective. Cuccinelli must mitigate this damage to have a shot. The two candidates are tied with independents. Interestingly, the Libertarian Party candidate is currently pulling seven percent of the vote. There are glimmers of hope for Cuccinelli in the crosstabs, not the least of which is the overall tightening of the race. Voters still have less of an impression of McAuliffe in either direction, meaning that the GOP still has some space (and limited time) to re-introduce the Democratic nominee to voters. They might not be enamored with embarrassing ignorance on issues, federal investigations, and party-first boorishness. 44-41 = lots of undecided, unengaged, and unhappy potential voters. Also, the Cuccinelli campaign insists that the poll sample — and many of the recent poll samples — use Democrat-heavy 2012 turnout models, which they contend are poor metrics for measuring an off-year electorate. Normally I’d find that argument compelling, but similar rationalizations led many of us astray in the presidential election, so I’m not inclined to seriously entertain those arguments. If nothing else, the new Q-poll makes the political team at National Journal look smart. Just yesterday, they wrote a consensus-busting piece about how Virginia’s gubernatorial race was no done deal. Crunch time.