It’s quite the reversal from the WaPo/Abt SRBI poll out earlier this week that gave Terry McAuliffe all of the Virginia gubernatorial race’s momentum with a whopping 12 point edge, but considering that Quinnipiac’s two previous polls at the both the start and middle of October were in keeping with this race’s (now erstwhile) running average of a 7 or 8 point advantage to McAuliffe, their newest poll released this morning is definitely significant:
The Virginia governor’s race is going down to the wire with Democrat Terry McAuliffe clinging to a slight 45 – 41 percent likely voter lead over Republican State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and 9 percent for Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. …
Today’s survey shows that if Sarvis were not in the race, McAuliffe would have 47 percent to 45 percent for Cuccinelli, too close to call.
“State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is nipping at Terry McAuliffe’s heels as the race to be Virginia’s next governor enters the final week of the campaign,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “It goes without saying that turnout is the key to this race and the harshly negative tone of the campaign is the kind that often turns off voters.”
Oh, my. The RCP average is now just over +9 for McAuliffe, with Sarvis holding on to his average of a full 9 percentage points for himself; as Brown notes, “Nationally, third-party candidates often lose support in the end as voters enter the voting booth and back someone they consider the lesser of two evils,” and however the currently proclaimed Sarvis supporters actually ending up voting — or not voting — on election day could still have a lot of impact (and if you happen to be a libertarianish-minded Virginia voter, I’d point you toward some competing and compelling recent pieces from Nick Gillespie and Scott Shackford in one corner and Tim Carney and Matt Lewis in the other).
As Brown also notes, Cuccinelli seems to be benefitting from Republicans “coming home” and committing their support at the last; I would think that the gigantic parade of fail that is ObamaCare right now, and perhaps the help of surrogates like Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal, is a big help, and his camp’s challenge will be really driving up Republican turnout. They’ll definitely have their work cut out for them, because both Obama and Biden will be making appearances on McAuliffe’s behalf before election day, and McAuliffe’s major fundraising advantage is still going strong:
Abortion-rights groups, environmentalists, gun-control advocates and the National Rifle Association all have jumped into the battle, one of two governorships to be decided next week. Virginia also is one of a handful of states where individuals, unions and corporations can donate unlimited amounts directly to candidates. McAuliffe has pulled in more than $34 million, while Cuccinelli has raised nearly $20 million. …
Seventy-two percent of McAuliffe’s campaign funds through Sept. 30 came from outside Virginia, according to an analysis by the Virginia Public Access Project, a non-partisan group that tracks political money. Cuccinelli relied on out-of-state donors for 64% of his haul during the same period.
Groups backing McAuliffe’s candidacy are among the biggest outside spenders in the race. They include NextGen Climate Action, a political action committee founded by California billionaire Tom Steyer, that has spent more than $2.4 million to run independent commercials slamming Cuccinelli in the state’s largest television markets.