RC poll: Cuccinelli plus six in Virginia

PPP’s latest gave the edge to Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, but in the second poll in as many days on the Virginia gubernatorial race, Roanoke College’s new poll says the slight lead in the contest belongs to Republican candidate Cuccinelli:

Republican Ken Cuccinelli leads Democrat Terry McAuliffe (37%-31%), but more than one-fourth (27%) of registered voters in Virginia remain undecided in the 2013 gubernatorial election, according to The Roanoke College Poll. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis claimed 5 percent of respondents. …

The major party candidates are becoming more familiar to Virginians, and views are somewhat more positive, with each now seen more favorably than unfavorably. A plurality of Virginia registered voters did not know enough about McAuliffe (45%) to have an opinion about him, and 34 percent don’t have an opinion of Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli has improved his favorable/unfavorable split (33 %/26%), compared with the April Roanoke College Poll, while McAuliffe has more than doubled his favorable views (24%/20%).

And despite the attempts to link up Team Cuccinelli to the rather struggling public image of Bob McDonnell, all told, the current governor’s mini-scandals don’t appear to be having too much of a cumulative effect on the continuously tight race so far:

Regarding the news story involving Star Scientific, its owner Jonnie Williams, and his involvement with gifts and loans to Gov. McDonnell and others, more than half (60%) of registered voters said they have not been following it closely at all. Only 9 percent said they have been following closely, and 25 percent said they have been following it somewhat closely. Of those who had been following very or somewhat closely, a large majority (83%) were able to identify McDonnell as being involved, and just over half (54%) said that Cuccinelli is part of the story. As “controls,” we also asked if respondents thought that Senator Mark Warner (4%) or McAuliffe (8%) were involved.

I suppose the biggest takeaway, however, is that the race is still definitely in competitive territory with a big chunk of Virginians undecided, and we still have another month or so of summertime lethargy before school is back in session and we get into full-blast state-level campaign season that will rally more voters’ attention. And, as Jennifer Rubin mentions at WaPo,

Two items are particularly noteworthy. First, President Obama’s approval is down to 40 percent in the state, suggesting he’ll be of limited utility to McAuliffe, although he’ll try his best to push black and young voters to the polls. Second, more than 60 percent of voters think abortion should always be illegal or only sometimes legal. Cuccinelli’s support for abortion regulations, a target for McAuliffe, may be unhelpful to McAuliffe’s effort to paint Cuccinelli as an extremist.

And despite all of that “extremist noise,” via Jim Geraghty at NRO:

“The priority is the same for voters, it’s still jobs and the economy,” Cuccinelli told me in a recent interview. “To the extent that we’re technically in a recovery, it’s a pretty weak recovery and it isn’t reaching everybody. Especially with the implementation of Obamacare, you’ve got small businesses that are frozen in place. Heck, our community colleges are pushing their adjunct professors down below 30 hours, and that’s happening in the private sector as well. That’s causing a lot of dislocation. Add to that furloughs and sequestration in the two most economically stable parts of the state, northern Virginia and southeastern Virginia, and you really get a decent amount of anxiety about the economy and job opportunities. So I still find that’s the first focus of voters.”