Poll: McAuliffe maintains big lead in Virginia governor’s race

state-capitol2A new Christopher Newport University poll released today has Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a seven-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race.

McAuliffe was at 46 percent in the poll, with Cuccinelli at 39 percent and Libertarian Robert Sarvis at 11 percent.

The key to the lead for McAuliffe is his lead among independents – where the Democrat is getting 36 percent of the vote to Cuccinelli’s 30 percent. Sarvis is at 30 percent among independents, an unusually high figure that history might suggest could lead to movement for either of the major-party candidates in the closing days of the campaign if those voters, as expected, end up jumping ship.

“The wild card in this race continues to be Robert Sarvis and the 15 percent of voters who are either taking refuge in his third-party candidacy or are still undecided,” said Dr. Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Public Policy. “If those numbers hold, Virginia may elect a governor with less than 50 percent of the vote for the first time since an extreme segregationist party splintered the establishment Byrd conservatives in 1965.”

McAuliffe also leads by 14 points among women, 51 percent to 37 percent for Cuccinelli

The politics surrounding the federal government shutdown have also been an issue for the Cuccinelli campaign. Among likely voters who are following the shutdown of the federal government closely, McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli 50 percent to 36 percent, and among those who say they or someone they know has been affected by the shutdown side with McAuliffe over Cuccinelli, 49 percent to 34 percent.

The CNU poll has Democrat Ralph Northam leading Republican E.W. Jackson in the lieutenant governor race 51 percent to 39 percent, and has Republican Mark Obenshain with a narrow 46 percent-to-45 percent lead over Democrat Mark Herring in the attorney general race.

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