RICHMOND -- In the first poll conducted since Virginia's governor race became a two-horse contest, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe are virtually tied.
A poll Quinnipiac University released Wednesday showed if the election was today, McAuliffe would garner 40 percent of the vote to Cuccinelli's 39, a difference well within the poll's margin of error.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican weighing an independent campaign after dropping out of the GOP nominating race, remains the wildcard. If Bolling made it a three-man race, McAuliffe and Cuccinelli would be tied with 34 percent of the vote, while Bolling would get about 13 percent.
Those numbers likely show Virginians don't know any of the candidates well and are simply voting along party lines. As a Republican, Bolling would presumably steal more support from Cuccinelli. Quinnipiac surveyors told responders Bolling was running as an independent but did not divulge his current party affiliation.
A whopping 61 percent of voters don't know enough about McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, to form an opinion of him and 2 in 5 voters are still undecided on Cucccinelli, though he's held a statewide office since 2010. And it's worse for Bolling, the two-term lieutenant governor: 72 percent of respondents said they don't know enough about him.
It's a problem from which even the most popular Virginia politicians suffer. While 45 percent of Virginians like Gov. Bob McDonnell, compared to just 23 percent who don't, a third of voters had no opinion on the governor as he enters his fourth and final year in office. About 54 percent believe McDonnell is doing a good job.
Nearly 60 percent of Virginians approve of Democratic Sen. Mark Warner. And though he was just sworn in, 48 percent approve of freshman Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, while 30 percent think he's doing poorly.
And unlike Congress, which has an approval rating in the teens, Virginians have a much higher opinion of their state legislature. As the General Assembly gets set to begin Wednesday, it enjoys approval from 43 percent of residents, though 39 percent disapprove.