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Libertarian Robert Sarvis is drawing support among independent voters tired of bitter political attacks.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli [Associated Press
Republican gubernatorial candidate, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, speaks during a news conference at Republican Party headquarters in Newport News, Va., Wednesday., Oct. 9, 2013. Cuccinelli claimed that Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe's proposals would cost the typical family of four more that $1,700 per year in additional taxes. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)]
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Less than a month before Election Day, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has opened up an 8-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the race for governor, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.
McAuliffe, a McLean businessman and former Democratic National Committee Chairman, leads Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, 47 percent to 39 percent among likely voters, with Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis drawing 8 percent support.
A Sept. 18 Quinnipiac survey showed McAuliffe with 44 percent to Cuccinelli’s 41 percent and 7 percent support for Sarvis.
The latest poll shows McAuliffe with strong support among women, leading Cuccinelli 53 percent to 34 percent, while Cuccinelli leads among men by 45 percent to 41 percent.
Sarvis is drawing support among independent voters in a race where bitterness and attacks among the major party candidates have drawn concerns that voters will turn out in lower numbers in the off-year election.
Among independent voters 40 percent backed McAuliffe, 38 percent Cuccinelli and 13 percent Sarvis.
“Terry McAuliffe’s strategy has been to paint Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as too conservative to be Virginia’s next governor. Today, almost half of Virginia voters agree, more than the 38 percent who say McAuliffe is too liberal,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“With less than a month to go until Election Day, McAuliffe is doing better among Democrats than Cuccinelli is among Republicans. McAuliffe and Libertarian Robert Sarvis are denying Cuccinelli the domination among independents he needs for victory.”
Brown said Cuccinelli needs to rein in GOP defectors and draw more support from independents to tighten the race, for which other recent polls have shown Cuccinelli slipping behind McAuliffe outside of the margin of error.
The negative tone of the campaign continues to affect both major party candidates, with neither McAuliffe or Cuccinelli achieving a favorability rating beyond the margin of error.
According to Quinnipiac, McAuliffe has a 41 percent favorability rating to 40 percent unfavorable while Cuccinelli’s favorability is under water, with 39 percent favorable and 49 percent unfavorable.
The survey found that 80 percent of the people don’t know enough about Sarvis to form an opinion.
The survey shows McAuliffe favored over Cuccinelli on issues ranging from abortion, to energy, health care, education and ethics in government. Cuccinelli is favored on taxes, and is the strong preference of voters when it comes to the question of which candidate has the right experience to be governor.
Sixty three percent said Cuccinelli has the right kind of experience to be governor, while 28 percent said he does not. In McAuliffe’s case, 52 percent said he has the experience to be governor, while 35 percent said he doesn’t.
Only 42 percent said McAuliffe is honest and trustworthy, and 41 percent said Cuccinelli is.
But those surveyed believed McAuliffe better understands their needs and problems, with 45 percent saying he understands and 41 percent saying he doesn’t. By comparison, only 39 percent say Cuccinelli understands their needs and problems and 53 percent believe he does not understand them.
The candidates for down-ticket races for lieutenant governor and attorney general remain largely unknown to voters.
Gov. Bob McDonnell remains out of favor with Virginia voters as he awaits the results of two investigations into gifts he accepted from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr.
Thirty-five percent of respondents view the governor favorably, while 45 percent view him unfavorably.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,180 likely voters from Oct. 2 to 8. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
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