Poll: 3rd party candidate may make difference in crucial election
November 1st, 2013
09:06 AM ET
10 months ago

Poll: 3rd party candidate may make difference in crucial election

Washington (CNN) - Democrat Terry McAuliffe holds a seven-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the marquee political battle for Virginia governor, according to a new poll.

   And with four days to go until Election Day 2013, the survey from the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University indicates that the third party candidate in the race could be the deciding factor in the outcome of the election.

   According to the poll, which was conducted last Friday through Wednesday and released Friday morning, 45% of likely voters in the Commonwealth support McAuliffe, a businessman and politically well-connected former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, 38% back Cuccinelli, Virginia's Attorney General, with one in ten supporting Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, and seven percent undecided.

   McAuliffe held leads of four-percentage points, six points, 12 points, and 15 points in four other non-partisan live operator surveys released earlier this week by Quinnipiac University, Hampton University, Washington Post/Abt SRBI, and Roanoke College.

   The Christopher Newport University poll indicates that more than two-thirds of those backing Sarvis say they are casting their vote as a protest against the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial nominees. Thirty-seven percent of Sarvis backers say they would have voted for Cuccinelli if the Libertarian candidate was not on the ballot, with just 17% saying they would have voted for McAuliffe.

   "The Sarvis voters don't like either Cuccinelli or McAuliffe, but they look like a net loss for Cuccinelli," said Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center. "The fact that Sarvis continues to poll around 10 percent, coupled with the fact that his supporters are becoming as firm in their decision as the McAuliffe and Cuccinelli voters, suggests that he's not going to fade."

   The poll indicates McAuliffe winning more than nine in ten Democrats, with Cuccinelli grabbing eight in ten Republicans. As with the previous surveys, the new poll indicates a gender gap, with McAuliffe leading by 16 points over Cuccinelli among women voters and men divided.

Getting out the base

While McAuliffe is ahead in all the public opinion polls and while he and his allies have greatly outraised and outspent Cuccinelli and the outside groups backing the GOP candidate, this is expected to be a low-turnout, off-year election, which tends to trend older and slightly more conservative. That's why, with the clock ticking towards Election Day, both campaigns are putting the emphasis in the homestretch on getting their voters out to the polls.

McAuliffe is joined Sunday by President Barack Obama and the next day by Vice President Joe Biden at rallies in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC, a Democratic stronghold.

While Cuccinelli can't count on any presidents or former presidents joining him on the campaign trail, he is getting a helping hand from some conservative favorites. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a hero to conservatives for his push to limit the collective bargaining of government workers which led to a showdown that grabbed national attention, teams up with Cuccinelli Saturday. Monday Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, another GOP star, campaigns with Cuccinelli. And on Election eve, the candidate teams up with former Rep. Ron Paul, a three-time presidential candidate who has a strong following among Libertarian voters, at a rally in Richmond. With Sarvis at 10% in the polls, it's no surprise that Cuccinelli is closing his campaign with Paul at his side.

Much Watched Race

 Virginia and New Jersey are the only two states to hold elections for governor in the year after a presidential contest, resulting in outsized attention. And with the Garden State's Republican governor, Chris Christie, holding a huge lead over his Democratic challenger in his re-election bid, the Virginia race is considered the only competitive statewide contest this year.

If McAuliffe wins, he would break a long streak in Virginia gubernatorial contests. In the last nine elections, the political party controlling the White House lost the governor's race in the Old Dominion.

Republicans currently control 30 of the nation's governorships.

The Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University was conducted October 25-30, with 1,038 likely voters in the Old Dominion questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.


Filed under: 2013 • Ken Cuccinelli • Terry McAuliffe • Virginia
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Will VA become the invasive procedures state? If the Cooch loses, then will he certify himself the winner. Will CNN accept the results if the Cooch loses, or will they report that the election was stolen from the Cooch?

    November 1, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  2. Norma Vessels

    I really don't care if the vote is divided among both Republicans, one being from the Tea Party .. as long as Terry McLauffe wins. :-)

    November 1, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a hero to conservatives for his push to limit the collective bargaining of government workers which led to a showdown that grabbed national attention, teams up with Cuccinelli Saturday."

    So many GOP heroes, so little time. If ONLY those heroes actually STOOD for something other than simply being the Brothers-Koch mouthpiece ... eh, Cuccinelli?

    November 1, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  4. Norma Vessels

    Virginia needs Terry McLauffe.

    November 1, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  5. Wire Palladin, S.F.

    In an act of desperation, the invasive procedure guy is counting on Marco Rubio, Florida's boy blunder, to campaign for him.

    November 1, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  6. king

    the repubs war on the poor is in full swing. they are cutting out all the spending money out of our economy to give to the already over bloated rich folks to invest in china and india. they are now going after food stamps which local economy needs to keep their workers and feed their hungry. lesson folks we dont need anymore money coming out of our local economy. to give to the rich who are just sitting down on the money or investing abroad, and not investing it back to create more jobs so that poor folks can get out of poverty. we need money circulating in our local economy dam it. and the repubs mission to see the wealthy get richer and the poor get poorer without healthcare, needs to stop.

    November 1, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Sarvis is taking votes away from the Cooch. Sometimes 3rd party candidates make all of the difference. My main concern as a Virginia voter is the election certification and the purging of 50,000 voters. If the Cooch wins, expect all hell to break loose.

    November 1, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  8. Gurgyl

    It does not make a darn difference. VA go for democrat any time. Quit GOP bs. God bless you all.

    November 1, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  9. Rusty Krus

    Do not vote for Republican traitors!

    November 1, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  10. smith

    @Tampa- Wasn`t it liberals to this day that claim that Bush stole the election in 2000 and 2004?

    November 1, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  11. Data Driven

    This network clearly doesn't like to be called liars. So I'll try this again:

    "McAuliffe held leads of four-percentage points, six points, 12 points, and 15 points in four other non-partisan live operator surveys released earlier this week by Quinnipiac University, Hampton University, Washington Post/Abt SRBI, and Roanoke College."

    4 + 6 + 12 + 15 = 37. 37 / 4 = 9.25.

    "Thirty-seven percent of Sarvis backers say they would have voted for Cuccinelli if the Libertarian candidate was not on the ballot, with just 17% saying they would have voted for McAuliffe."

    10% total Sarvis voters / 37% of those voters preferring Cuccinelli = not enough for Cuccinelli to overcome his deficit given the 9.25% aggregate against him.

    Dems would have to throw their votes to Cuccinelli in order for him to win. If the polling numbers from the 4 non-partisan firms are accurate, and, given their varying range, we have no reason to believe that they're all partisan, one way or another, then the Sarvis factor falls outside the margin of influence. Even if this network isn't lying in order to promote the GOP candidate, they certainly can't do math. I don't know which is worse, frankly.

    November 1, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    People have to vote their convictions........that is our system. You cannot vote for people you do NOT believe in, even if that means voting for someone who you know cannot win. That's the only way we can ever get rid of the "lesser of two evils".

    November 1, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Why anyone would want to put a man with the personality of a stentorain, storefront preacher in the governor's mansion is beyond my understanding. Don't Virginia voters realize that any GOTP victories will go straight to their heads as a mandate to resume the overreach they tried in 2011 and 2012.

    Gov. Kasich in Ohio backed off of his anti-union policies with the telling words, "too soon." Just because the hideous probe law in Virginia was scaled back to an untlrasound does not mean that they will not try to bring it back. Cuccinnelli will. He will resume their nationwide, voter suppression campaign, too.

    November 1, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel

    People have to vote their convictions........that is our system. You cannot vote for people you do NOT believe in, even if that means voting for someone who you know cannot win. That's the only way we can ever get rid of the "lesser of two evils".
    -----------------------------–
    People have to vote with the hive mind........that is our system. You cannot vote for people you DO believe in, even if that means voting for someone who you know cannot win. That's the only way the hive can ever get rid of the "lesser of the species."

    FIFY.

    November 1, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. Thomas

    @Rick McDaniel

    Congress announces it will be in session fewer days in 2014
    The news came from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

    They work so hard !

    November 1, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  16. Stuffit

    It is a shame, yet telling, that the liberaLy biased main stream media has never really looked into the GTA scandal in Mississippi. I know it would destroy the cozy relationship thy have with McAuliffe and the Clinton's, but if they had reported the truth during the past 6 years we would not have ended up with the most corrupt president in history.

    November 1, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  17. Jeff in Virginia

    It's amazing that CNN continues to use a nine year old picture of McAuliffe.

    Notice the John Kerry for President button on his jacket? You know, the one from 2004?

    November 1, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. MaryM

    Its really sad when there are people like the cooch in our government that wish to take VOTING RIGHTS away from Americans. Americans, PLEASE vote these TPers out of offices asap.

    November 1, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. Tampa Tim

    Smith – No, you are wrong. It was the Fox lie machine who reported that Obama stole the 2008 and 2012 election.

    November 1, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  20. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Anybody that votes for the GOP teaparty after their 24 billion dallar loss to our economy in just 16 days is just STUPID!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. smith

    @Tampa- I don`t watch fox so I wouldn`t know about that. What I do see is the cries of cheating, voter suppression, gerrymander districts and lying from the liberals who visit this site.

    November 1, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. CryBabies

    TM...hmmmm. Is he in the used car business? Slick looking fellow.

    November 1, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Stuffit

    It is a shame, yet telling, that the liberaLy biased main stream media has never really looked into the GTA scandal in Mississippi.
    ---------------
    Doesn't the right wing ever hear what they actually sound like? It is a fact that nearly 90% of news media outlets are actually owned by conservatives. It is a fact that the right wing detests the "main stream", preferring the rapids on the edges, the extremes.

    So every time a conservative uses the traditional, fallback position of blasting the media, they're actually lamenting the fact that they do not control all of it. The really ironic part about it is that most of them are blissfully ignorant of the facts.

    November 1, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    What I do see is the cries of cheating, voter suppression, gerrymander districts and lying from the liberals who visit this site
    -------------------------------------------------
    No one is crying about it, we're just doing CNN's job in reporting it.

    November 1, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Insofar as Virginia is concerned: Virginia is going Blue.

    November 1, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
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