Washington Secrets

Poll shocker: Too close to call in Virginia governor's race, 33%-32%, Terry McAuliffe over Ken Cuccinelli

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Politics,Virginia,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Terry McAuliffe,Ken Cuccinelli,Polls,Campaigns

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has caught up to former Democratic Party boss and Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe in the race to be the next governor of Virginia, according to a new poll from Zogby Analytics and Newsmax.

With just a month to go, the poll of 600 likely voters in Virginia is in the margin or error: 33 percent for McAuliffe, 32 percent for Cuccinelli.

The Cuccinelli surge follows last week’s candidate debate in Fairfax where the Republican landed some punches and looked gubernatorial.

The poll, however, found that many Virginians don’t like the candidates, that 11 percent prefer any “other” choice, and a whopping 24 percent are undecided, making this race a nail-biter to the end. For example, McAuliffe is viewed unfavorably by 47 percent, Cuccinelli by 51 percent.

The poll was conducted online September 27-29 and has a margin of sampling error of +/-4.1 percentage points.

The poll confirmed what many Republicans fear. When Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis is included in the lineup of candidates, McAuliffe’s lead increases to 5 points - 32 percent for the Democrat, 27 percent for Cuccinelli, 13 percent for Sarvis and still 24 percent undecided.

Pollster John Zogby, who also does the weekly Secrets Obama report card, offered up some other nuggets:

“We learn a lot about Virginia voters in this poll. First, they are not fond of any of the candidates. An undecided of 24% at this stage of a race where fortunes have been spent strongly suggests that a lot of people don't really like any of the candidates. Second we learn that both the candidacies of Sarvis and Jackson are hurting Cuccinelli among voters in the general election. Third, in a generic matchup for president in 2016, we find the state leaning toward a Democratic candidate by 8 points - 36% to 28%, with 32% undecided. Finally, we have parsed the GOP vote in Virginia among 4 separate groups: self-described ‘libertarians.’ ‘fiscal conservatives.’ ‘social conservatives,’ and ‘Tea Party.’

“Among libertarians, Cuccinelli leads McAuliffe 31% to 18%, but Sarvis receives 35%. Among fiscal conservatives, Cuccinelli leads 57% to 7% with 21% for Sarvis. Among social conservatives, Cuccinelli shuts out his opponents 79% and 13% undecided. And among Tea Partiers, Cuccinelli leads 51% to 9% for McAuliffe, 13% for Sarvis, and 24% undecided. This race is not over.”

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.
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