CNU poll: McAuliffe +7, Northam +12, Obenshain +1

A new week brings a new poll, from Christopher Newport University, of the statewide races. The headline numbers: McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli by seven points, 46-39 percent. Libertarian Robert Sarvis clocks in at 11 percent.

CNU’s gubernatorial numbers have tightened since last week, when its poll showed McAuliffe up by nine points over Cuccinelli – 47-38 – with Sarvis at eight percent.

So according to these figures, all hope is not lost for Ken Cuccinelli, right? The campaign must certainly hope so. However, the improvement in Sarvis’ numbers ought to give both major party candidates a moment’s pause, because of the opportunity his supporters represent.

Sarvis gains strength week-over-week in the CNU poll. But how strong is that support? Sarivs may be picking up what would otherwise be an undecided vote. Note that his three point gain equals the three point decline in undecided voters. Only 52 percent of Sarvis’ vote is “firm” and a third of his supporters are self-described independents — the traditional key to victory in any Virginia statewide race.

The major party campaign that makes a play for those voters could see a substantial shift in its own numbers. The Cuccinelli campaign has made a (late) attempt to woo Sarvis’ backers. Is it enough? No. Look for a lot more to come in the days ahead.

CNU also looks downticket, and finds, as it did last week, that Ralph Northam leads E.W. Jackson by a wide margin — and is the only statewide candidate to crack the 50 percent barrier. The attorney general contest is a statistical tie, but with Mark Obenshain holding the headline lead over Mark Herring, 46-45. Obenshain has gained four points week-over-week.

A couple of things to note…

Last week, I wrote that if Terry McAuliffe’s campaign believed it had the gubernatorial race in hand, it would transfer resources to the downticket Democrats. That has happened, as McAuliffe, I’m told, asked his national Democratic backers to direct $1.5 million to the Northam campaign for what is likely to be a barrage of very tough ads aimed at E.W. Jackson.

This infusion is slightly more than all the money Northam has raised — primary and general — for his campaign so far.

As for the Obenshain campaign…it could be next.

And later than I expected, but bound to happen at some point, Hillary Clinton will make a campaign appearance for Terry McAuliffe this weekend.

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