Outsiders usually don’t get to see political party’s internal polls – and given the source, it’s always worth having a grain of salt nearby, but here’s an intriguing one from the Democratic Party of Virginia.
The party’s polling firm sampled 400 voters in the 17th House of Delegates District, which covers a small part of Roanoke, as well as parts of Roanoke County and Botetourt County. It’s a pretty reliable Republican district, which Del. Chris Head won easily in 2011, tallying 65 percent of the vote over Democrat Freeda Cathcart.
The poll found 47 percent of voters saying they’d cast their ballots for governor for Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli compared to 42 percent saying they’d vote for Democrat Terry McAuliffe. That split is within the poll’s 4.8 percentage point margin of error, which means the race may be a dead heat in that district. In any event, it’s a lot less than the 20 percentage point margin Mitt Romney racked up last year in the presidential race or Gov. Bob McDonnell’s 34 point margin in 2009.
The poll found a 19 percentage point difference between those with a favorable view of Cuccinelli and those with an unfavorable view, with nearly half of those polled saying they have an unfavorable view.
The Democrats were eager to see how Southwest Virginians were reacting to the state inspector general’s decision to look into the Office of the Attorney General’s relationship to gas companies in a legal dispute with Southwest Virginia landowners. Democrats have hit hard on the issue, especially since a federal magistrate said she was shocked that a senior state attorney was giving advice to the gas companies outside the scope of the state’s declared interest in the matter, and since one of the firms gave $111,000 to Cuccinelli’s campaign.
Grain of salt time: the party would not say what the poll showed about voting intentions in the House of Delegates race, which is a rematch of 2011. It did not test McAuliffe’s favorable/unfavorable split. And, of course, it opted to share part of the poll’s results for its own reasons.
“We are not going to comment on a poll that is clearly one-sided and is being peddled by Democrat operatives. While McAuliffe is playing political games, Ken Cuccinelli is traveling the Commonwealth discussing his plans to grow the economy and ensure that every child in Virginia has access to a quality education,” said Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix.
For some general background on the 17th District, check out this.