Quinnipiac’s latest poll of the Virginia gubernatorial race shows…we may have a race on our hands after all. The new numbers still show Terry McAuliffe ahead of Ken Cuccinelli, but by only four points — 45-41. Robert Sarvis posts nine percent support. The poll has a 2.9 percent margin of error.
A few items of note — yes, there’s still a yawning gender gap. And yes, Ken Cuccinelli still needs to nail down the GOP base. But this is the area where he’s made substantial improvement week over week:
McAuliffe leads 91 – 2 percent among Democrats, with 4 percent for Sarvis, while Cuccinelli leads 86 – 5 percent among Republicans, with 7 percent for Sarvis. Independent voters go to McAuliffe 46 – 31 percent, with 16 percent for Sarvis.
Women back the Democrat 50 – 37 percent, with 7 percent for Sarvis. Men go to Cuccinelli 45 – 39 percent with 11 percent for Sarvis.
Unlike the Washington Post poll earlier this week, which showed Sarvis supporters really weren’t the key to the race, Quinnipiac says they are:
“With the race this close, the final decision by the roughly one in 10 voters who are supporting Libertarian Robert Sarvis has become even more critical. Nationally, third-party candidates often lose support in the end as voters enter the voting booth and back someone they consider the lesser of two evils. Only six in 10 Sarvis supporters say they definitely will vote for him. Almost nine in 10 McAuliffe and Cuccinelli backers are committed.”
So expect the pounding on Sarvis as a “LINO” to continue.
And then there are the independents:
“Cuccinelli seems to be benefitting from Republicans coming home, but McAuliffe still does a little better among Democrats than Cuccinelli does among GOPers. And, McAuliffe leads among independents, perhaps the key voting group. It is difficult to see Cuccinelli winning if he can’t run at least even or slightly ahead among independents. Here, too, Sarvis’ voters matter greatly since the libertarian is getting 16 percent of independents, but only 9 percent overall.”
All the more reason to pour the boiling oil on Sarvis. It will likely be effective, given that Quinnipiac and other polling firms have shown his support to be so soft. But where do those voters go afterwards? That’s fascinating to watch.
McAuliffe still gets more second choice votes. But his margin is eroding. Fast.
The number that still tells me Cuccinelli has a hazy path to victory, though, is his unfavorable rating:
Virginia likely voters give McAuliffe a negative 41 – 46 percent favorability rating, compared to a negative 40 – 52 percent for Cuccinelli. For Sarvis, 75 percent don’t know enough to form an opinion.
McAuliffe is underwater. In any other race at any other time, he would be unelectable…save for Cuccinelli being just a bit worse.
It’s worth noting, for those interested in the partisan splits of polls, that this week’s Quinnipiac poll is the first since Bearing Drift’s own poll in September to show a slightly more Republican turnout. Quinnipiac puts the numbers at 31R/29D/31I and 8 percent “other.” Last week, the split was 25R/33D/35I and 7 percent “other.”
And for those playing the deeper game…recall that the NBC/Marist poll showed Cuccinelli’s voter intensity was solidly higher than McAuliffe’s. Voter intensity matters in low turnout elections. A lot.
Don’t forget this item either: the Washington Post poll showed 64 percent of McAuliffe’s supporters weren’t voting for him. They were voting against Ken Cuccinelli. That was an astounding number, and I said it could be McAuliffe’s eventual undoing.
Now you know why Bill and Hillary Clinton, The President, and Joe Biden, too, are making campaign stops for McAuliffe. He’s not sure — at all — that his (grudging) supporters will show up on election day. He needs all the halo effect he can get.
Roanoke College also has a set of poll numbers out today and those figures show an entirely different race than Quinnipiac:
Democrat Terry McAuliffe has opened a 15-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli (46%-31%), while 14 percent of likely voters in Virginia remain undecided in the 2013 Gubernatorial election, according to The Roanoke College Poll. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis claimed 9 percent of respondents.*
The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 838 likely voters in Virginia between October 21 and October 27 and has a margin of error of +3.4 percent.
In the down-ticket races, Democrat Ralph Northam leads Republican E. W. Jackson for lieutenant governor (Northam-48%, Jackson-32%, Undecided-20%), and, for the first time, Democrat Mark Herring has opened a significant lead over Republican Mark Obenshain for attorney general (Herring-46%, Obenshain-35%, Undecided-19%).
Um. yeah. How on earth do we get two polls showing such wildly different snapshots?
The partisan split.
So today will be filled with dueling press releases, with each side touting, or ignoring, the results of their preferred poll.