Poll: McAuliffe maintains advantage in Virginia gubernatorial race
(L) Terry McAuliffe (R) Ken Cuccinelli
October 23rd, 2013
08:17 AM ET
8 years ago

Poll: McAuliffe maintains advantage in Virginia gubernatorial race

Washington (CNN) - The Republican and Democratic candidates vying to become Virginia's next governor both addressed the recent government shutdown on the campaign trail, but a new poll indicates the issue had little to no impact on the race.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, less than two weeks before Election day, shows Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe with a 46%-39% advantage over Republican rival Ken Cuccinelli, with Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis hitting the double digits at 10%.

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Four percent of likely voters say they're undecided, and 7% say there's a "good chance" they could change their mind, according to Quinnipiac.

The results are mostly consistent with a Quinnipiac survey released October 10, when McAuliffe was ahead among likely voters 47%-39%. Sarvis had support from 8%.

And an NBC4/NBC News/Marist poll released last week also showed an eight percentage point margin between the top two candidates. McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, had 46%, while Cuccinelli, the commonwealth's attorney general, had 38%. Sarvis had 9%.

Nearly half of Virginia's likely voters–47%–say the shutdown hurt their state "a great deal," according to the new poll. McAuliffe and other Democrats have especially been hitting hard against Republican Cuccinelli for not giving a firm answer over whether he would have supported last week's vote to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

"I don't know whether I would have voted for it," he said at an event Monday.

State and national Democrats pounced on that statement.

"Ken Cuccinelli's clear opposition to the bipartisan agreement that reopened the federal government confirms what voters have learned: he will always stand up for his extreme, Tea Party ideology over the needs of the people of Virginia," Democratic Governors Association Executive Director Colm O'Comartun said in a statement.

Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute, said one of Cuccinelli's biggest obstacles is failing to win the support of an overwhelming majority of his party.

"Generally over the past decades, especially in southern states like Virginia, Republicans win when they have strong party allegiance among their base," Brown said. "One reason McAuliffe is ahead is that he wins 92% of Democrats while Cuccinelli has only 81% of Republicans. If Cuccinelli can't bring more Republicans home, he is likely to be toast."

Also of note, third party candidate Sarvis has been gaining slightly more traction, which could make a difference in a race this close.

"The double-digit presence of Libertarian Robert Sarvis on the ballot creates a major uncertainty," Brown said. "The big question about Sarvis is whether his voters will stick with him to the end, or wind up voting for McAuliffe or Cuccinelli."

A majority of voters have an unfavorable opinion of the 2013 gubernatorial race, according to Quinnipiac. Thirty-four percent have a "strongly unfavorable" opinion.

McAuliffie and Cuccinelli both have a negative favorability rating, meaning more people dislike the candidates than like them. As for Sarvis, more than three-quarters don't know enough about him to have an opinion.

Those sentiments fall in line with an editorial by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which withheld its endorsement on Sunday, saying none of the candidates deserved its support.

For the survey, Quinnipiac questioned 1,085 likely voters from October 15-21, with a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
minimal zeal."

The winner of the election will succeed outgoing Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser and CNN Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2013 • Ken Cuccinelli • Polls • Terry McAuliffe • Virginia
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Anyone who thinks Cuccinelli isn't a Tea Party extremist isn't paying attention. The best ad that McCauliffe can run would be a highlight reel of Cuccinelli's running mate. That'll turn some heads, for sure. It'll remind voters who and what Cuccinelli actually is. He's someone who will resurrect that disgusting probe legislation, that's what he is.

    October 23, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    I don't know whether I would have voted for it," he said at an event Monday.
    Come one, man. Are your supportes actually that stupid that they would buy into that poor excuse for a denial? I'm assuming that you're not that stupid to think that people would actually believe you, Mr. Cuccinelli.

    October 23, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Even the biggest loser Santorum was playing vulture by picking the bones of the Cooch's campaign, looking for money.

    October 23, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  4. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Anybody hooked up with the teaparty has received the kiss of death from Ted Cruz and lee in their next election. These incompetent GOP fools will cause the loss of the house and senate by the GOP idiots who lost over 24 BILLON dallars off the GDP . The GOP is toast in 2014 midterms, and that means you lee , Cruz, Labrador , radel and the rest of the teatrash in Washington and Florida , Scott and the GOP Florida legislature!!!!!

    October 23, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  5. MaryM

    The tide is already turning republicans. It took years but the Majority of Americans are finally seeing you for what you really are, freaking nuts

    October 23, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    The Dem political machine, can be compared to the regimes of Lenin and Stalin. That's how communism really takes control, and how the government is taken over from within.

    October 23, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  7. Data Driven

    ""The double-digit presence of Libertarian Robert Sarvis on the ballot creates a major uncertainty," Brown said. "The big question about Sarvis is whether his voters will stick with him to the end, or wind up voting for McAuliffe or Cuccinelli."

    Yeah,maybe if the polling is otherwise equal. But, here, McAuliffe has a 8 to 10 point advantage in every poll, so, actually dude, there will be no uncertainty.

    By the way, I'd like to congratulate CNN on reporting on something else besides the glitchy healthcare website.

    October 23, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    No hand wringing here. Putting aside all the available polling, McAuliffe will go on to become the next Governor of Virginia.

    October 23, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |