Virginia poll: McAuliffe, Cuccinelli still pretty much tied

Ah, dear ol’ Virginia. The now-purplish commonwealth has gone from swinging blue for Obama in 2008, to electing Gov. McDonnell in a landslide just one year later, and then right back to supporting Obama in 2012 — and it’s so far looking like the 2013 gubernatorial is very much up for grabs. This is the first polling update since Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced earlier this month that he was scrapping the idea of an indie bid, which had the potential to siphon off votes from both Cuccinelli and McAuliffe, but it looks like his withdrawal had pretty much no effect on the virtual tie between the remaining two. In a nutshell, though, the race is still seven months away and Virginians just haven’t invested that much interest in it yet, via Quinnipiac:

Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is viewed as having better experience while voters see Terry McAuliffe as slightly less ideological, but neither is well-known to voters who are divided on who should be the next governor, with 40 percent for Republican Cuccinelli and 38 percent for Democrat McAuliffe according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. …

“Neither candidate for governor is that well known to voters although Cuccinelli has a small edge in that department,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Because of their relatively low profiles at this point, the horse race numbers pretty much reflect a generic Democratic-Republican race. …

Virginia voters still know little about either candidate. Cuccinelli gets a 30 – 24 percent favorability rating, with 44 percent who don’t know enough about him to form an opinion. McAuliffe has a 20 – 16 percent favorability, with 63 percent who don’t know enough about him.

The real gist of it, then, is that there’s still plenty of room for all of those independently-minded Virginians to be swayed, and given that Chris Christie would have to royally screw things up in New Jersey to lose 2013’s only other gubernatorial, I’d count on the Democrats throwing everything they have at this race. Gov. McDonnell’s job approval rating is still pretty darn solid (53 percent with 26 percent disapproving, according to this Quinnipiac poll), and while there was an outbreak of anger over his recent transportation bill, Cuccinelli was openly opposed to the whole thing — ergo, I’m steeling myself for what I’m guessing will be a bunch of “extremist Tea Partier,” “war on women”-themed ad assaults coming up here. Yippee.

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