Poll: McAuliffe ahead 12 points; Democrats poised to take top st - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Poll: McAuliffe ahead 12 points; Democrats poised to take top statewide positions


A new Washington Post/Abt-SRBI poll shows Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe with a wide 12-point lead over Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, highlighting the GOP candidate's dwindling support in the final days of the gubernatorial race.

In the poll of likely voters, McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli 51 percent to 39 percent.

The double-digit margin for McAuliffe, who has held a comfortable lead for weeks, was cemented by two growing realities that reflect a national trend for the Republican Party: a widening gender gap among women, and a view shared by myriad voters that the party has drifted too far to the right.  

McAuliffe's commanding lead with females (24 points), moderates (27 points), independents (11 points) and college graduates (22 points) has also helped bolster his numbers.

And a majority of likely voters say Cuccinelli's ideology is too conservative (54 percent), while only around a third say his views are just right (36 percent). That's in contrast to the 40 percent of voters who find McAuliffe "too liberal", and the 50 percent who say his ideology is just right.

Both state- and nationwide, a majority of likely voters found dissatisfaction with the Republican Party. Around two-thirds of those polled had an unfavorable view of the party nationally (65 percent), while more than half had that view of the GOP here in Virginia (57 percent).

A slim majority found both the national Democratic Party (50 percent) and the state Democrats (53 percent) to be in a positive light.

McAuliffe's standing in the polls raises the distinct possibility that Virginia will break a traditional streak for the swing state – since 1977, through the past 9 gubernatorial elections, the party in control of the White House has suffered a loss in the race for governor.

Even in 2008, when Barack Obama won the state by 6 points, Bob McDonnell, the current Republican governor, won in a 17-point landslide. In the race prior to that, George W. Bush's 8-point victory was followed up by the 2005 election of Democrat Tim Kaine, who won by 6 points.

Both candidates have been on a campaign blitz with out-of-state visitors recently.

Former President Bill Clinton has been stumping with McAuliffe since Sunday, and the two have planned a four-day tour of the state. President Barack Obama has also pledged to campaign for McAuliffe.

Cuccinelli has drawn the assistance of multiple GOP stars. Kentucky Senator and Tea Party-hero Rand Paul had a joint appearance with Cuccinelli at Liberty University on Monday.

And Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Chairman of the Republican Governor's Association, has a scheduled meeting with Cuccinelli on Tuesday in Bristow.

Despite such high-profile star power, Cuccinelli continues to lag behind McAuliffe in general fundraising. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, a non-partisan group which compiles campaign finance data, McAuliffe raised $8.1 million between October 1-23. Cuccinelli, in comparison, raised just $2.9 million.

In overall fundraising, Cuccinelli has received a little less than $18 million, according to the Washington Post. McAuliffe has almost double that, with nearly $35 million total.

Further down the ticket, both the races for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General are polling favorably for Democrats, though the latter is still within the margin of error in several polls.

Democratic State Senator Ralph Northam currently holds a 13-point lead over Republican E.W. Jackson, a minister. Among likely voters, Northam has 52 points to Jackson's 39.

The race for Attorney General is much closer, with Democratic candidate Mark Herring (49 percent) holding a slim lead over Republican Mark Obenshain (46 percent). That race has consistently been the most closely contested, and remains within the margin of error.

If Election Day reflects the recent polling data, state Democrats could snatch the top three positions in Virginia for the first time in almost 25 years.

Election Day is November 5. Absentee voting - which allows residents to vote early if they meet any of a number of requirements - is available until the Saturday before the election.

The Post/Abt SRBI poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 24-27 among a random sample of 762 likely voters in the Virginia gubernatorial election, including users of both land-line and cellular phones. The margin of sampling error for results among likely voters is 4.5 percentage points.

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