It’s still early yet, but at the last count, state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe were basically neck-and-neck in 2013’s only competitive gubernatorial contest, with a lot of Virginians still pretty much unfamiliar with/uninterested in the race so far. In the latest Washington Post poll, however, things might be starting to shift ever so slightly, and in Cuccinelli’s direction:
Six months before Election Day, Cuccinelli (R) has a slender 46 to 41 percent edge over McAuliffe (D) among all Virginia voters and a significant 51 to 41 percent lead among those who say they’re certain to cast ballots in November. But those numbers may change before then: The poll found that barely 10 percent say they are following the campaign “very closely” and that nearly half of the electorate says they’re either undecided or could change their minds. …
Having never held office, McAuliffe is the lesser-known quantity in this year’s contest, giving both sides the opportunity to try to define him in coming months. Fully 70 percent of Virginia voters say they know “just a little” or “nothing at all” about him or his qualifications to be governor. Even 65 percent of Democrats know little about the party’s nominee.
There is also broad uncertainty about Cuccinelli — 52 percent of voters say they know little about his qualifications — but the public continues to give a more positive than negative assessment of his work as attorney general. About 54 percent of voters say that he has “high personal moral and ethical standards,” about triple the number saying that he does not.
The biggest takeaway is probably that most Virginians still have yet to start paying much attention, but Cuccinelli already has very staunch support from the GOP base while McAuliffe is still more of an unknown and is currently underperforming with the Democratic constituencies that helped President Obama take the commonwealth in 2008 and 2012.
There’s still plenty of purplish public opinion for the taking, and both campaigns are all set to get things going in earnest; each camp got their first television ads rolling this past week, and McAuliffe started his campaign-trailing today, kicking things off in Norfolk:
Democrat Terry McAuliffe officially starts his campaign this week with a series of public events in which he will discuss a variety of policy issues. The businessman will talk about transportation Sunday at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk.
Then on Monday, McAuliffe will join U.S. Senator Tim Kaine at an event in Richmond, where the two will discuss community colleges. He’ll also appear at events in Charlottesville and Harrisonburg.