Yesterday, I mentioned Team McAuliffe’s kind of puzzling move to court the support of Michael Bloomberg and his well-monied gun-control ilk, given that major gun-control issues and Bloomberg’s interference haven’t played too well with Virginians lately and that doing so will only undergird his image as a national and not a Virginia Democrat, but that he must think the potential for any Republican backlash against the move is worth the risk.

If these numbers are accurate, you could see why. Says Rasmussen:

Democrat Terry McAuliffe has jumped to a 17-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia gubernatorial race following the federal government shutdown that hit Northern Virginia hard and Hillary Clinton’s weekend visit to the state.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Virginia Voters finds McAuliffe with 50% support to Cuccinelli’s 33%. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis is a distant third with eight percent (8%) of the vote. Three percent (3%) like some other candidate, while five percent (5%) remain undecided.

The poll was conducted on October 20th, and Rasmussen’s pre-shutdown poll showed only a 6-point gap between the two candidates, so some lessons there would seem to be that A) the shutdown was really not a helpful development for Cuccinelli, and B) that Hillary Clinton is a mighty useful ally to have on your team.

The 17-point gap is rather a suspiciously huge outlier compared to other recent polls, however, especially with the Quinnipiac poll out today that showed McAuliffe with the more regular gap of 7 points. The pollsters argue that the new numbers closely align with their mid-shutdown numbers, and that ergo, the shutdown didn’t have quite the effect many are prepared to think it did:

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe leads Republican Ken Cuccinelli 46 to 39 percent in a new Quinnipiac poll, numbers that remain virtually unchanged from the government shutdown even though 47 percent of likely Virginia voters say it affected their state “a great deal.” …

“The double-digit presence of Libertarian Robert Sarvis on the ballot creates a major uncertainty,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute. “The big question about Sarvis is whether his voters will stick with him to the end, or wind up voting for McAuliffe or Republican State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.”

“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,” Brown said.

Both the new Quinnipiac and the Rasmussen polls bring the RCP average at McAuliffe +9.6 points, and a PPP poll of early voting says that McAuliffe is running away with the early votes so far:

The survey, conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling for the League of Conservation Voters, a liberal environmental advocacy group, found McAuliffe taking 57 percent of early voters, compared with 39 percent for GOP Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

That margin is similar to current GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell’s early vote leads in 2009: four years ago, according to figures from the state Board of Elections cited by PPP, he led among early voters by 18 points as well, 59 percent to 41 percent.