Poll: McAuliffe continues to hold big lead in governor’s race

state-capitol2A new NBC4/Marist poll has Democrat Terry McAuliffe up eight points on Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race.

McAuliffe is at 46 percent in the poll, with Cuccinelli at 38 percent and Libertarian Robert Sarvis at 9 percent.

The September NBC4/Marist poll had McAuliffe with a 43 percent-to-38 percent lead over Cuccinelli.

The bigger margin is consistent with several recent gubernatorial polls. Also consistent is the finding in the new poll that the government shutdown is having an impact on the race in favor of McAuliffe.

Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed said the shutdown would impact their choice in November. Among that subset, McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli 55 percent to 27 percent.

“Just when Cuccinelli needed to start closing the gap against McAuliffe, the government shutdown became a huge roadblock,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

The GOP has a distinctly tarnished brand right now among Virginia voters – with 62 percent holding an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, with just 33 percent holding a favorable view. Democrats are slightly under water at 50 percent unfavorable and 45 percent favorable, but notably President Obama is in the positive, with 50 percent viewing him positively and 48 percent negatively.

McAuliffe also has a slight favorable rating – 44 percent approving and 43 percent not approving – while Cuccinelli is viewed favorably by 37 percent and unfavorably by 54 percent.

“When you have a majority viewing you negatively, it’s hard to win an election,” said Barbara Caravalho of Marist. “It’s not that McAuliffe has closed the deal, it’s that he’s the lesser of two evils.”

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