Two new polls, two new shots under the waterline for the GOPPolitics

Two new polls are out, one from Politico and another from Christopher Newport University that have crushing headline numbers for the GOP statewide candidates.

First, the Politico poll, which shows Terry McAuliffe with a 44-35 lead over Ken Cuccinelli. Libertarian Robert Sarvis pulls a strong 12 percent.

You can roam through the cross tabs to find what numbers interest you. But for me, the fascinating figures are what the race would look like without Sarvis on the ballot. With Sarvis, the gender gap between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli is eight points. Without Sarvis, it expands to 10.

On the partisan split, Cuccinelli bleeds 11 percent of the GOP vote to Sarvis, while McAuliffe loses six percent of Democrats. Take Sarvis out of the equation and the partisans settle more closely to their standard bearers. But independents go overwhelmingly to McAuliffe.

Not that independents like McAuliffe. Among them, his unfavorable rating is 54 percent. But Cuccinelli manages to fair even worse — 60 percent of independents just don’t like him.

There are other indicators — race and age — which show Sarvis holding the balance.

The CNU poll, which may be an outlier, has some interesting bits on the downticket races. It shows Democrat Ralph Northam with a whopping 11 point lead among likely voters. In the AG race between Mark Obenshain and Mark Herring, it shows Herring with a three-point advantage.

Even if this poll is out of whack with others, it’s the headlines that matter, and they are not good at all for the GOP. The Politico poll, in particular, is a gut punch.

At the end of August, when Larry Sabato changed his rating on the governor’s race to “leans Democratic,” I speculated we could see a repeat of the 2001 election, where the only Republican to win statewide was Jerry Kilgore.

Some may recall that 2001 was the last time the Libertarians fielded a gubernatorial candidate. Bill Redpath. He garnered a paltry .77 percent of the vote. The key difference this time out is that voters appear to loathe, in their bones, the major party candidates. Sarvis is an empty vessel — largely unknown, and therefore a prime candidate for the “none of the above” vote.

That means Sarvis has a huge opportunity. I’m becoming more convinced that he will do well enough to give the party a ballot slot in the next few elections. And also that his vote will hold the eventual winner under 50 percent.

  • Eric McGrane

    I know that the Libertarians want to punish the GOP and send a message, and that message is “Good morning, Governor McAuliffe”.

    • Brad Froman

      No, it will be voters from across the political spectrum who, for whatever reason, don’t believe Cuccinelli is the best choice for Virginia. The libertarians who vote for Sarvis sure as heck don’t want McAuliffe either. We are not out for punishment at all. Libertarians want libertarian leadership. That’s why we will vote for Sarvis. If McAuliffe wins, instead of blaming libertarians for Cuccinelli’s loss, maybe you should have fielded a candidate that can beat McAuliffe? To blame libertarians for the Republicans’ poor choice is ridiculous. Both parties have long decided they will have the monopoly on governing us. Sometimes, you have to just say “no.”

      • Eric McGrane

        Brad: There’s more than anecdotal chatter on the Intarwebs about wanting to punish the GOP and send a message. This isn’t just me making this up on my own.

        All I’m saying is that to those voters who think that way, that they may be about to send a message that they didn’t intend.

        Vote count math WINS, every time. The guy with the most votes will be the next governor, no matter how ideologically we feel about parties or candidates. To ignore math is to welcome the outcome, regardless of what that outcome is. This has ZERO to do with any particular candidate or party. Its a truism.

        • Brad Froman

          I understand you. You would be talking about protest votes going to
          Sarvis, I’m guessing. But I’m speaking about libertarians who truly
          believe that nobody is trying hard enough to reign in government so that
          taxes can be lowered and businesses can be freed up from
          over-regulation. And in addition, we think people should be left alone
          to live their life as they please as long as they don’t hurt anyone
          else. We want Sarvis to get more than 10% of the vote so that we get a
          spot on the ballot next year which will enable us to grow and field more
          libertarian candidates. And sure, we hope he could win. It would be unfortunate to see McAuliffe win. I think he’s a very poor choice.
          If Cuccinelli were libertarian, the problem would be solved. But he’s
          not. And if Cuccinelli loses, I hope Republicans, in their postmortem, look in the mirror instead of at libertarians, for blame.

          • midwestconservative

            Cuccinelli is the closest thing the GOP has put up as a Libertarian since Rand Paul in 2010, the fact of the matter is, if Cuccinelli loses the GOP will look in the Mirror and declare that “small government” conservatism doesn’t win. Chris Christie simultaneously winning by a massive landslide in NJ will all but ensure he’s the nominee.
            But whatever, I have no intention of voting for either Christie or Rand Paul so if by holding my vote I ensure 4-8 years of more Clinton, then so be it. My state is prepared.

          • reluctant activist

            Cuccinelli is no Libertarian. He is a social conservative and Tea Party darling and the 50% in the middle are sick of it. The GOP needs to WAKE UP.

          • Cowabunga1000

            Cooch isn’t getting his butt handed to him because of his views on “small government.” It’s because his other positions and behavior as AG have pretty much scared off anybody who isn’t a right-wing whacko, an outcome that was entirely predictable before he was nominated, If the Virginia GOP had run Bolling instead of running him off, he’d probably be 15 points ahead. But keep voting for hard-core ideological purity – the Democrats can use the help.

          • gun_nut

            I agree with almost every thing you said here. I don’t like the GOP, especially the rather poor version of it here in VA. I am (little l) libertarian. I wish that the GOP had not wandered so far from libertarianism, but they have. The only problem is that with Libertarians out on their own (instead of pulling the GOP towards libertarianism), the GOP floats to Dem Lite and the Dems are out in far left. That leaves the Libertarians running candidates who can’t win, the GOP running candidates like Dole, McCain, Romney, Christie et al., and the Dems running whatever sleaze has the best connections.

            The result just goes from bad to worse.

      • ordinaryguy75

        Well said. The game is changing and party loyalists are now trying to claim we aren’t playing fair… we’re supposed to vote for whatever candidates are put forth by the major parties, no matter what. Well, you can see what kind of government that kind of attitude has led to and plenty of us are fed up with it. Sarvis is the best candidate and he gets my vote.

      • midwestconservative

        Only about 10% of Sarvis’s support ( 1% of the electorate) is coming from hardcore libertarians, the other 90% of Sarvis’s support comes from Progressives who hate McAuliffe for being a sleazy douchebag
        and Republicans upset at Ken for a variety reason for example Moderate Republicans upset at Ken “for being Ken” and Tea Party/Ron Paul republicans upset at Ken “for NOT being Ken”

        • Patrick Bailey

          As a Ron Paul Republican, I’m voting for Ken Cuccinelli precisely “for being Ken.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if Ken Cuccinelli is elected, he will be the most de-facto libertarian governor in the whole country.

          I’ve also said before that people who vote for Sarvis are people who probably would not be voting otherwise at all. I don’t believe Sarvis will “steal” any votes from Ken on election day, because they will be votes Ken never had in the first place.

    • ordinaryguy75

      No better nor worse than a Governor Cuccinelli. If you ask me to choose between a sleazy car salesman, a fire and brimstone preacher, or an educated idealist I would vote for the latter every time.

      • Eric McGrane

        Thank you for your comments. I do disagree that Ken and Terry are equal on the undesirable scale however. I’d like to hear from you what kinds of specific policies you think Ken would be able to implement while governor that make you wary of him as a “fire and brimstone preacher”? Please cite some examples, if you would please.

        • ordinaryguy75

          Fire and brimstone comes from his “family values” stance on homosexuality and his maligned attempt to overturn the Supreme Courts ruling on Virginia’s antiquated anti-sodomy law. He’s also not as Libertarian as Sarvis in his positions on recreational drug use. Most of these beliefs have foundations in religious doctrine. These doctrines are fine for people who choose to follow a particular religion but they should not be the foundation for laws that apply to people of ALL faiths and beliefs.

  • S Fisher

    That is a really scary poll, to think that McAuliffe, Northam, and Herring could actually win is not a comforting thought…does BD think that there is a chance for a GOP comeback from the brink?

    • ebase22

      The problem is that while McAuliffe is not liked by many in the mushy middle, Cuccinelli is seen as scary. This is in part his own doing of always having an image as a conservative crusader and in part letting the dems dominate the election narrative. And choosing Jackson didnt help. The GOP needs to learn that VA politics are no longer “southern”. VA is purple, which means te winner of the statewide races are the ones who look centrist. Te dems in event years have been able to do that. And McDonnel did that too. If the GOP wants to win stop nominating people who appear crazy to many low info swing voters and start nominating people who looking like good managers of things like transportation and budgets. It would go a long way if the VAGOP would get rid of conventions.

      • midwestconservative

        Florida and Ohio are “purple” VA is blue.

      • John Harvie

        Your comment re the GOP and conventions is the most cogent comment in this entire thread.

      • Cowabunga1000

        I think you’re underestimating the electorate if you think Cuccinelli only looks crazy to “low-info swing voters.” I wouldn’t care if he had a “genius” certification from the National Institute of Transportation and Budget Management – his record is that of a right-wing social engineer, and that’s enough to get me to vote for almost ANYBODY else because I don’t think he can help himself. I want the governor to be the adult voice in the room when the fringy types in the legislature (Bob Marshall, anyone?) come up with some over-the-top idea, and refuse to sign it. Unfortunately, I’m hard-pressed to come up with any hard-right scheme that I can’t imagine Cuccinelli signing. Or, for that matter, proposing in the first place. For me, that spells L-O-S-E-R.

  • ebase22

    Another interesting thing with some of these polls including this one is that the dems are doing better with likely voters relative to registered voters. It usually works in reverse. Part of the GOP tickets problems seem to be that a sizable group of otherwise inclined to vote GOP voters are turned off this cycle. That should say something.

    • nmill005

      It should say something, but I guarantee it will fall on the deaf ears of the RPV.

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