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The Democrat is in the unenviable position of being the “lesser of the evils,” one expert said.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Three statewide polls released Tuesday have Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race, but neither candidate is dazzling voters with less than four weeks left in a corrosive campaign.
McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli by 6 percentage points, 40 percent to 34 percent, in a Roanoke College poll of likely Virginia voters. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis polled at 9 percent, and 16 percent said they remain undecided.
Both major-party candidates are saddled with poor favorability ratings. Only 32 percent of the participants in the Roanoke College survey have a favorable opinion of McAuliffe, and 36 percent have an unfavorable opinion. But Cuccinelli’s numbers are even worse. Only 31 percent view the Republican attorney general favorably, and 46 percent have an unfavorable opinion.
“Terry McAuliffe may be solidifying his position as the ‘lesser of the evils’ in this election,” said Harry Wilson, the director of Roanoke College’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. “Both candidates are still viewed negatively, but that is more true of Ken Cuccinelli.”
The results come from interviews with 1,046 likely voters conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 5. The poll’s margin of error is 3 percentage points. A Roanoke College poll released in mid-September had McAuliffe and Cuccinelli in a virtual dead heat.
McAuliffe has larger leads in two other statewide polls released Tuesday, A Christopher Newport University poll of likely voters has McAuliffe at 47 percent, Cuccinelli at 38 percent and Sarvis at 8 percent. The survey of 886 likely voters, conducted between Oct. 1 and Sunday, has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
A poll conducted for Politico has McAuliffe at 44 percent, Cuccinelli at 35 percent and Sarvis at 12 percent. Democratic firm Public Policy Polling and Republican firm Harper Polling conducted the automated survey of 1,150 likely voters on Saturday and Sunday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
In the Politico poll, 49 percent have an unfavorable opinion of McAuliffe and 56 percent have an unfavorable view of Cuccinelli.
The Roanoke College and Christopher Newport polls offer contrasting snapshots of the down-ticket races. In the Roanoke College poll, Democrat Ralph Northam leads Republican E.W. Jackson in the race for lieutenant governor by just 4 points, 39 percent to 35 percent. In the race for attorney general, Republican Mark Obenshain has a statistically insignificant edge over Democrat Mark Herring, 38 percent to 35 percent.
In the Christopher Newport poll, Northam leads Jackson by 11 points, 48 percent to 37 percent. And Herring’s 45 percent to 42 percent edge over Obenshain is within the poll’s margin of error.
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