Virginia: Three new post-shutdown polls show McAuliffe in the lead

The first round of Virginia gubernatorial polls conducted since the start of the government shutdown (remember: NoVa. Bureaucrats and contractors. SO many bureaucrats and contractors.) are out; I definitely wouldn’t go so far as to say that Cuccinelli “doomed,” but with both camps running ads disparaging the shutdown and trying to link to other guy to the ‘DC dysfunction,’ it doesn’t look like the situation has improved Cuccinelli’s fortunes. The first poll, via Politico, has McAuliffe at 54 percent and Cuccinelli at 44 percent in a one-to-one contest:


McAuliffe, the former national Democratic Party chairman, is now 9 points ahead of Cuccinelli, the current state attorney general, in a race that also includes Libertarian nominee Robert Sarvis. In the survey, McAuliffe drew support from 44 percent of Virginians versus 35 percent for Cuccinelli and 12 percent for Sarvis. …

The POLITICO poll, conducted by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling and Republican firm Harper Polling using automated survey methodology, is the first snapshot of the Virginia race to take into account the impact of the closure of the federal government. The survey tested 1,150 likely voters Oct. 5- 6 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. …

Of the Virginia voters who oppose the shutdown, nearly two-thirds — 64 percent — support McAuliffe while 16 percent support Cuccinelli, and 12 percent back Sarvis. Shutdown supporters prefer Cuccinelli over McAuliffe, 73 percent to 10 percent with 11 percent for Sarvis.

And with a full 62 percent of respondents opposing the shutdown, that’s advantage, McAuliffe.

This is the Christopher Newport University poll also released today, with more evidence of that oh-so-lovely gender gap McAuliffe has going in his favor:

Businessman McAuliffe tops Attorney General Cuccinelli 47 percent to 38 percent and Libertarian Robert Sarvis notched 8 percent support, though his seems softer. Seven percent remain undecided. …

Among registered voters, McAuliffe’s advantage dips to 5 points, 43 to 38 percent. …

Gaps in support among women and independents — McAuliffe’s lead is 12 points and 16 points respectively among those voters — are key factors in his overall advantage in the poll from Christopher Newport University’s Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy. …

Regionally, McAuliffe looks strong in two-thirds of Virginia’s so-called urban crescent, widely leading in vote-rich Northern Virginia and by a smaller edge in the Richmond area.

But Cuccinelli is solidly up in Hampton Roads, and the two men are virtually even in the traditional Republican strongholds of Southside and Southwest Virginia.


If the candidates are really polling about the same in southwestern Virginia, then that definitely explains Cuccinelli going all-in to hammer McAuliffe on his only recently-decided support for the Obama administration’s anti-coal regulations, but as I suggested yesterday, supporting Obama’s grandiose climate-change plans won’t hurt McAuliffe in his own purplish-blueish urban strongholds. Back to Politico:

The poll … found that 45 percent of likely voters support new EPA climate regulations for coal-fired power plants, an issue that has become a flashpoint in the Virginia governor’s race. Thirty-three percent of likely voters say they oppose the regulations and 22 percent aren’t sure. …

More independents support the rule than oppose it, with 44 percent backing it and 36 percent against it. …

The results appear to validate Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s decision, after days of hesitation, to come out in favor of the proposed EPA regulation, even though it could hit southwest Virginia’s coal country. The polling results were not broken down by region so it’s unclear how unpopular the regulation is in the southwest.

I saved the best of today’s news for last, from the new poll from Roanoke College:

Democrat Terry McAuliffe has opened a six-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli (40%-34%), while 16 percent of likely voters in Virginia remain undecided in the 2013 gubernatorial election, according to The Roanoke College Poll. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis was supported by 9 percent of respondents.* …

Both candidates remain “underwater” in terms of favorable/unfavorable ratings (Cuccinelli-31% favorable, 46% unfavorable; McAuliffe-32% favorable, 36% unfavorable). While the percentage of respondents who said they did not know enough about the candidates to have an opinion about them is less than half of what it was in the July Roanoke College Poll and has declined several points since September, most of that shift for each candidate continues to go to the unfavorable category. Just over two-thirds of likely voters (68%) said they know some or a great deal about Cuccinelli’s qualifications to be governor, while fewer (59%) said the same about McAuliffe.


That’s still a solid chunk of independents, and turnout (Virginia traditionally has a slight Republican lean in off-year elections, although I would by no means rely on that this time around), as well as to what degree the libertarian-leaning respondents either don’t show up or end up voting for a mainstream candidate, will definitely have an effect on the race — but the time to turn things around is running out, with exactly one month to go.

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