A week out of the 2012 election and we’re already seeing polls for the next one. Fun, fun.
In a poll run over four days among 1469 registered voters in Virginia, Quinnipiac asked about hypothetical match-ups between Democrats Mark Warner (who’s mulling over a run to return to the Governor’s Mansion) or Terry McAuliffe (who’s already announced and hopes to do a bit better than his disappointing second place finish in the 2009 Democratic Primary*) versus Republicans Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli.
So how’s it measure up?
Warner – 53%
Warner – 52%
Cuccinelli – 34%
McAuliffe – 38%
Bolling – 36%
McAuliffe – 41%
Cuccinelli – 37%
So what does this tell us?
One, we’re a year out and registered voters aren’t necessarily going to care in a year. Especially since it’s an off year election that typically pulls in much lower turnout then what we’ve just seen this year.
Two, none of these candidates are particularly well known not only by voters at large but also within their own parties, with Mark Warner being the notable exception.
For example: 65% of Democrats haven’t heard enough of Terry McAuliffe to have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him. But he still pulls up to 92% of his party’s support in a general matchup.
Even Bill Bolling, who overall has a net favorable of +12 while 70% have no clue what they think of him, still finds 54% of Republicans who responded not having an opinion of him one way or another with a net favorable of +42% (compared to only 34% for Ken Cuccinelli having no opinion while he has a net +54% favorable among Republicans and only +5% overall.
Three, let me say it again: it’s a poll of registered voters a week out from the actual election.
Now, while this should mean nothing, what could it mean for some people?
Well, let’s look back at those favorables for the Republican candidates who are already jockeying for position for the May Convention.
Ken Cuccinelli – Total/Rep/Dem/Ind
Favorable – 29/59/5/28
Unfavorable – 24/5/41/23
Haven’t heard enough – 45/34/51/48
Bill Bolling – Total/Rep/Dem/Ind
Favorable – 20/44/4/17
Unfavorable – 8/2/12/9
Haven’t heard enough – 70/54/81/74
And, for good measure, Republican support against Warner/McAuliffe
Cuccinelli – 81/84
Bolling – 80/83
Going into 2013, Ken Cuccinelli has a greater net favorability rating among Republicans than Bill Bolling – +55% to +42% – and edges him out among Republicans in head to head match-ups with the potential Democratic nominees. Within the margin of error, though.
Bill Bolling has a greater opportunity to define himself to the general public for next November’s election where half have made up their mind on Cuccinelli while over two thirds are not sure about Bolling. But Cuccinelli has an early lead among the very Republicans who will be picking the nominee at the May Convention. So Bolling has to fight out the gate for the very support he’ll need to get the nomination, but has to be careful that he doesn’t mis-identify himself for general election voters who are otherwise waiting for their nominees to choose from.
And both of them have a very good chance at beating Terry McAuliffe, who only leads either of them by 2-4 points in a poll that sampled Democrats at +7.
But that’s if you give any value to a poll this far out involving some candidates who have yet to even enter the race.
*FUN FACT: In the 2009 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary, Terry McAuliffe only won FIVE localities in all of Virginia, four of them by less than 50 votes combined.