Virginia voters don’t seem to be wild about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
But, according to new public opinion surveys, they think even less of Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli.
Three new statewide polls released this morning give McAuliffe an advantage with four weeks to go in Virginia’s corrosive governor’s race, but both major-party candidates have poor favorability ratings.
“Terry McAuliffe may be solidifying his position as the ‘lesser of the evils’ in this election,” said Harry Wilson, the director of Roanoke College’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. “Both candidates are still viewed negatively, but that is more true of Ken Cuccinelli.”
The new Roanoke College poll has McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli by 6 percentage points, 40 percent to 34 percent, among likely voters. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis polled at 9 percent in the Roanoke College survey, and 16 percent said they are undecided. The results come from interviews with 1,046 likely voters conducted between Sept. 30 and Saturday. The poll’s margin of error is 3 percentage points.
McAuliffe has leads of 9 percentage points in two other polls released this morning.
A Christopher Newport University poll of likely voters has McAuliffe at 47 percent, Cuccinelli at 38 percent and Sarvis at 8 percent. The survey of 886 likely voters, conducted between Oct. 1 and Sunday, has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
A poll conducted for Politico has McAuliffe at 44 percent, Cuccinelli at 35 percent and Sarvis at 12 percent. Democratic firm Public Policy Polling and Republican firm Harper Polling conducted an automated survey of 1,150 likely voters on Saturday and Sunday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points
Neither McAuliffe nor Cuccinelli can claim to be a popular candidate, based on two of the surveys released today. In the Roanoke College poll, just 32 percent had a favorable opinion of McAuliffe and 36 percent had an unfavorable opinion. But Cuccinelli’s numbers are even worse. Only 31 percent viewed the Republican attorney general favorably, and 46 percent had an unfavorable opinion.
“Cuccinelli continues to be the lightning rod in the race,” Wilson said in a news release. “Those who say they will vote for him are really voting for him. While McAuliffe’s numbers are better in this area, his supporters still tend to say they are voting against Cuccinelli. It will be interesting to see how that plays out with regard to voter turnout, which may be the key to this election.”
In Politico’s robo-dial poll, 49 percent had an unfavorable opinion of McAuliffe, but 56 percent viewed Cuccinelli unfavorably.
The two college polls offer contrasting snapshots of the down-ticket races. In the Roanoke College poll, Democrat Ralph Northam leads Republican E.W. Jackson in the race for lieutenant governor by just 4 points, 39 percent to 35 percent. In the race for attorney general, Republican Mark Obenshain has a statistically insignificant edge over Democrat Mark Herring, 38 percent to 35 percent.
In the Christopher Newport poll, Northam leads Jackson by 11 points, 48 percent to 37 percent among likely voters; and Herring’s 45 percent to 42 percent edge over Obenshain is within the poll’s margin of error.