Wenzel poll: A dead heat between Cuccinelli and McAuliffe

Another day, another poll, this one from Wenzel Strategies, which finds the gubernatorial race is…a dead heat.

That’s right, according to these numbers:

Democrat Terry McAuliffe leads Republican Ken Cuccinelli by a 41% to 40% margin, with Libertarian Rob Sarvis winning 10%. Another 9% of likely voters said they were yet undecided in the race.

So how do we get to these figures?

The Wenzel Strategies poll, using a turnout model that is closely balanced, includes a sample of 28% Democrats, 26% Republicans, and 46% independent voters. This reflects the swing-state tradition of Virginia that has lately leaned toward Republicans in statewide, non-presidential years, but has tilted to the Democrats in recent presidential elections.

Using a turnout model replicated by Quinnipiac University in its recent survey, weighting the sample to include 33% Democrats, 25% Republicans, and 42% independents or minor party supporters, McAuliffe leads with 43%, compared to 38% Cuccinelli, 10% for Sarvis and 9% yet undecided. This reflects a slight tightening of the race, compared to the Quinnipiac survey that showed McAuliffe with a 7-point lead.

Bearing Drift’s poll of the gubernatorial race used a much more traditional, more Republican, voter turnout for the off-year election. We found, back in September, that the race was…a dead heat. That was a terrible result for the Cuccinelli campaign — which is why the Republican press operation gave us no notice that day.

So it really all comes down to who folks think will show up on election day. Most polls believe turnout will more closely resemble that of the presidential race. Could be. And if it so, that will be one of the biggest stories of this election. Even the Wenzel poll shows a slightly more Democratic turnout.

Reason for Cuccinelli supporters to cheer? Sure. Until we get to this:

The Wenzel Strategies survey shows voters are split on both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli. While 45% said they have a favorable opinion of McAuliffe, 46% have an unfavorable opinion of him. For Cuccinelli, 47% hold a favorable opinion, while 50% have an unfavorable opinion of him.

McAuliffe has done a better job locking down his political base, perhaps in part to recent campaigning in the state by both Clintons, who are longtime allies of McAuliffe. Among Democrats, McAuliffe wins 81% support. Among Republicans, Cuccinelli wins just 68% support. Among those who consider themselves political independents, Cuccinelli wins 44% support, compared to 33% for McAuliffe and 11% for Sarvis.

I still do not see a path to victory — for any candidate — when the negatives are at or above 50 percent.

Take the numbers for what you will. They offer hope that all is not lost, and that McAuliffe may actually have peaked too soon.

Nota bene: Wenzel’s record in Virginia’s 2012 record for the presidential and Senate contests was not good.

  • Doug Brown

    “I still do not see a path to victory — for any candidate — when the negatives are at or above 50 percent.”

    So how much money and effort is the RNC, RPV, and Conservative PACs putting into trashing McAuliffe in the Democratic-Liberal-Progressive media? Probably no where near what McAuliffe has done in the Republican/Conservative media

    • midwestconservative

      The RNC only spends money on setting up the election, not on ads or advocacy itself. And the Rep Gov Association is Ken’s biggest donor giving him nearly 8 million out of his total of 17 mil. The 2nd highest donor ( last I saw) was the RPV ( though less then half a million that I saw, so still not good).
      If anybody is to blame for lack of funds its the Tea Party and the Grassroots, not the National organization.
      Granted the National Party could do more, and they’ve heavily helped Chris Christie ( unnecessarily I might add). But they’ve done their job. Groups like Freedomworks, ForAmerica, or Club for Growth haven’t.

      • Edroch

        Yeah, they helped the RINO Christie but not a true conservative like Ken.

        • midwestconservative

          I didn’t say they didn’t help Ken, if someone is to blame for Ken being underfunded it’s the Tea Party.

          • hoosierwatchingmaine

            Even the Koch brothers aren’t going for Cuccinelli- he must be a real mess.

        • Eric827

          Cuccinelli is a “true” conservative? That’s hilarious!

          The man is obsessed with getting the government to invade people’s privacy as much as possible.

      • David Eggleston

        The big boys aren’t going to spend money on races where the candidate can’t raise money himself. Why throw good money after bad?

        • midwestconservative

          you’re actually wrong about that since Ken’s biggest donor is the Republican Governor’s Association. The People not pulling their weight are the Tea Party organizations.
          edit: Though some of those orgs are wealthy enough to be called “big boys” now.

          • David Eggleston

            The RPV is broke, so they can’t help. The RGA is pulling up the slack because there is no one else to. They’re kind of obligated.

  • Edroch

    It’s who counts the vote that counts.

    Congressional testimony.
    Now look at the 2012 results…
    Coincidence? I think not.


    Get the law changed to allow video and photos to be taken inside voting areas. If you see something suspicious record it.

    • Warmac9999

      Straight out of Stalin’s play book. It isn’t he who votes that counts, but he who counts the votes. We have a bunch of Chicago socialist thugs running the country. There is nothing they won’t do to beg, borrow and steal every election.

    • Scout

      Be particularly suspicious if you see any Poles.

    • tonyr62

      Is a pole watcher someone who enforces Ken’s anti-sodomy legislation?

  • Tommy Valentine

    Now this is a much more believable poll given the sample.

  • Scout

    In the wake of previous depressing poll numbers, David Weigl at Slate predicted a few days ago that it was time for someone to leak a directed result poll showing the Rs surging. Sounds like that advice has been taken to heart.

  • Markos_Anderson

    Be wary,

    This same polling organization had Akin winning in Missouri last October.

  • Daniel Cortez

    Must be a slow news day to print Wenzel’s “sterling” prognostications. . But I do understand. Poor presentation by both candidates on the final debate still give the advantage to McAuliffe. I expect him to win. Vote for Obenshain for Attorney General….he can save Republicans from a sweep..

  • hoosierwatchingmaine

    Cuccinelli’s obsession with forcing his personal Catholic beliefs on all citizens will cause him to lose the election. Sarvis will get the fiscally conservative, “not religious maniac” vote, and McAuliffe will win.

  • ThisNameInUse

    Cuccinelli is a tea party darling. That’s really all that voters need to know.

  • arbitrage789

    I haven’t studied Cuccinelli’s positions in detail.

    But his legal challenge to the Constitutionality of the individual mandate is reason enough to vote for him.

  • disenwit

    If anyone wants Hillarycare, then vote for McAuliffe.. your insurance costs will go up dramatically if they haven’t already, as more and more millions are wasted on administration..but not on healthcare!!

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