Augusta Free Press

Quinnipiac: Terry McAuliffe with six-point lead in Virginia governor race

The final Quinnipiac University poll of the 2013 election season has Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a six-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor race.

Quinnipiac made headlines five days ago with a poll suggesting that the race was within the margin of error, but the internal demographics on that poll had an electorate that was more Republican than Democratic in makeup. The poll released Monday is back in line with previous Quinnipiac polls in terms of partisan makeup, with a sample of 32 percent Democrat, 27 percent Republican and 33 percent independent.

McAuliffe gets 46 percent in the latest poll, with Cuccinelli at 40 percent and Libertarian Robert Sarvis at 8 percent.

Five percent are undecided, and 5 percent of those who currently back a candidate say there’s a chance they will change their mind before Election Day on Tuesday.

So there’s a small window open for Cuccinelli, at least in theory, though the bulk of those voters are Sarvis supporters, 24 percent of whom are saying they could change their minds between now and their entrance into the voting booth.

robert sarvis continues to get almost one in 10 votes, apparently taking many of the Republican and independent votes Cuccinelli needs,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “If Sarvis’ supporters stay with him in those numbers, it is difficult to see where Cuccinelli can find enough votes to turn his fortunes around.”

Brown says that voters peeling away from Sarvis can aid Cuccinelli, but the Quinnipiac poll also surveyed voters in the event that the race was a two-candidate affair with just McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, and McAuliffe’s lead actually increases to seven points in that scenario, 49 percent to 42 percent.

The best bet for Cuccinelli now appears to be hoping for low voter turnout in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, where McAuliffe has rung up big leads in other recent polls.

“To make a comeback in the final hours Cuccinelli will need to take virtually all the undecided; peel off a few percent from Sarvis and hope that his turnout operation is superior to that of McAuliffe,” Brown said. “Obviously that is a longshot formula for victory.  The good news for Cuccinelli is that his supporters seem more enthusiastic about their guy than are the McAuliffe backers, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough of them to get Cuccinelli over the top.”