Quinnipiac: McAuliffe 48, Cuccinelli 42Politics

pollsQuinnipiac has its first poll of likely voters out and it shows Terry McAuliffe leading Ken Cuccinelli by six points. The driving force in this poll, and behind the numbers? Trust:

Honesty is the most important quality Virginia likely voters are considering when they choose a candidate as 58 percent of voters say a candidate’s “honesty and trustworthiness” are “extremely important” while 35 percent say “very important.” Voters are divided 39 – 36 percent on whether McAuliffe is honest and trustworthy, and are divided 42 – 43 percent on Cuccinelli’s honesty.

That McAuliffe registers a number greater than zero on trust or honesty will come as a shock to those who’ve read the dossiers on the guy. But most voters don’t do such things and, frankly, don’t seem to care. Yet.

And then there is this, which makes me lose my faith in Virginia:

Voters care more about empathy than experience which helps explain McAuliffe’s lead.

Good grief.

But there’s even more:

“It seems obvious that Gov. Bob McDonnell’s political troubles are hurting fellow Republican Cuccinelli. Guilt by association may not be fair, but it sure is politically powerful. Trust matters and at this point neither man is doing all that well in that category.”

Bob the albatross. That was inevitable given the cascade of stories over the past few months. But it is not an excuse.

Cuccinelli is behind and, based on these numbers, it’s because of a yawning gender gap and Ken’s apparent lack of empathy. Those are dog whistles. The real term for the gap: social issues. Plain, simple and clear. McAuliffe has been beating Cuccinelli like a mule over social issues for months. unfairly or not, it has an effect on voter perception. And it’s right out of the Obama playbook.

Bob McDonnell was a strong social conservative who won convincingly in 2009. But he had a central, simple, theme: Bob’s for Jobs. In 2009, that trumped everything.

Update…Not So Fast

My occasional writing partner Paul Goldman thinks Quinnipiac is making a rather bold, if not historic, statement about Virginia’s electorate:

Historically speaking, the Q-Poll is making a bold statement: namely, the Virginia is a now a Democratic state, “blue” as they say, no longer “purple” having left “red” in the rear view mirror. Why? If you dig into the poll just a little – indeed it is clear from the first set of numbers to anyone who knows VA politics – the pollsters are predicting that contrary to all previous history, the 2013 in an off-year GUV race will match the presidential year turnout model for 2008 and 2012. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE, NOT EVEN CLOSE.

He has a lengthy explanation of why Quinnipiac may think this time is different, and for those interested in the alchemy of polling, it’s worth the read.

The most interesting nugget? I thought it was this:

The $20 million or so that has been spent TO DATE by the candidates attacking each other HAS NOT MOVED A SINGLE VOTER on a collective basis.

Which is terrible news if you’re a candidate, but money in the bank if you’re a consultant.

  • nmill005

    McDonnell’s refusal to do the right thing and resign is going to hand this election on a silver platter to McAulliffe.

    • http://www.brianschoeneman.org/ Brian W. Schoeneman

      What does McDonnell’s behavior have to do with Ken Cuccinelli?

      • Turbocohen

        Nothing. Its guilt by association.

        • Scout

          I guess my view is contrarian on this, but I think the McDonnells issues actually help (or at least do no harm to) Cuccinelli. Both Cuccinelli and McDonnell were slurping from the Star Scientific trough, but Mrs. McDonnell’s exuberant gulps make Cuccinelli look almost abstemious. If the McDonnells were not having to address these issues, the spotlight would be much more on Cuccinelli’s role with Star.

  • isophoroneblog

    Note that the poll was D +7. Do you think that is accurate?

    • NormLeahy

      We can question the poll’s partisan mix, but that’s last year’s game. Maybe it’s too rich on Democrats and independents. We won’t know if the mix was right until after the ballots are cast. Recall that last week, Cuccinelli was telling his base voters to get in the game, or else. Maybe his own numbers were hinting at what we see today.

    • ghostofteddalton

      I’ve actually talked to someone who used to work for Gallup about this. It’s not as simple as it looks.

      You have to remember that a pollster isn’t supposed to question an answer. Since 2008, there are a LOT of conservatives who refuse to identify as Republican. That’s just a fact of life. So the cross tab (if available) to look at is ideology. If you look at the polls that were criticized last year for a “heavy D” sample, when you looked at the ideology, it usually still had more self-identified “conservatives” than “liberals.” Obviously, those are malleable terms, but it does indicate that some “conservatives” and “Tea Partiers” are not self-identifying as Republican.

      My advice is to not put too much emphasis on party ID in polls. People under 40 of all ideologies are very reluctant to identify with either party.

      What’s more telling about a poll’s accuracy is the aforementioned “ideology”, “race”, “income”, and “age.”

      The problem for Cuccinelli is this: outside of one WaPo poll, I haven’t seen another poll showing him over 45%, no matter the pollster or sample.

      That’s probably the most telling stat. He’s been a very high profile statewide official. He’s facing a tomato can of an opponent. And he’s not polling anywhere near 50%. That’s bad news no matter how you dissect it.

      Last 10 weeks are here….Cuccinelli has to do something to shake the dynamic.

  • Wally Erb

    The most significant aspect of a poll is the direct result it has in campaign fund raising. It could go two ways: first, it could be beneficial to TM as blood in shark infested waters and hamper replenishing KC’s war chest. On the other hand, it may indicate that a more financial effort from KC supporters and external sources are required to even up the numbers by KC securing the undecideds. Like it or not, this campaign is coming down to who has the most money.

  • DJRippert

    Anyone care to hazard a guess as to what the polls would say right now if the Republican ticket was Bolling, Snyder, Obenshain?

    • http://www.brianschoeneman.org/ Brian W. Schoeneman

      No point in guessing.

  • hope

    My question is: what are YOU all doing to change these numbers. Talk is cheap.

  • Mr. Green Jeans

    Well if true, look on the bright side – oral sex is still on the menu for us married folk. I would take some sloppy cunnilingus over a cooch gubernatorial win any time.

  • David Eggleston

    The RPV has made its bed; in November we (or y’all) will have to sleep in it.

  • Don Rattz

    Really, Cuccinelli’s problem is trust? Really, McAuliffe’s poll numbers on honesty are a shock? Really, voters care about empathy? Really, McDonnell is an albatross around Cuccinnelli’s neck? Really, there is a gender gap? Really, the tide of electoral politics turns on social issues? Cuccinelli is behind because of all these reasons? Really?

    Take off your consultant’s lenses and look at it through the same lens that I use when I’m standing in line at the polling station. While you’re in line, listen to the conversations voters are having and then ask yourself the question: Why are these people voting today? Most voters at my polling station are there to protect their benefits. They don’t like abortion but they vote for benefit preservation. They hate gay marriage but they vote for benefit preservation. They dislike the erosion of freedom but they vote for benefit preservation. They would vote for Hitler or Stalin if they thought that would preserve their benefits. Our benefit culture and the lure of redistribution has a very potent and addictive effect on many voters. I hear them referred to as “moochers.” The “moochers” have record turnout percentages on election day. For them, its like going to work…except they only have to go to work once or twice a year. There is no consultant’s strategy that will suppress the “moocher” vote. The only strategy that will overcome the strong “moocher” vote is one that gets many more non-”moochers” registered and into the polling booth. Consultants should spend time and money toward this effort.

    For those who are not political consultants: Am I right?

    • Warmac9999

      I fear that you are all too correct. The moochers are the same people who killed the goose that laid the golden egg in that fable.

      Eventually the situation becomes intolerable and the makers trike back with a vengeance. It isn’t post Labor Day yet, so I have hope that the makers will step up.

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