Morning Read: Virginia Voters Don’t Really Know Who Cuccinelli and McAuliffe Are


Tuesday afternoon media outlets reported on a PPP poll that showed Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli 46 to 41 percent in the still nascent Virginia gubernatorial race. When Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is put in the mix—he is mulling an independent run—he garners 15 percent of the vote, giving McAuliffe’s a wider 40-32 advantage over Cuccinelli.

But this morning, a Quinnipiac University poll was released and showed the two presumed candidates in a dead heat, with McAuliffe’s 40-39 percent lead falling well within the poll’s 2.9 point margin of error. If Bolling jumps in the race, the Quinnipiac poll shows the lieutenant governor pulling evenly from both candidates’ votes. Both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli would have 34 percent of the votes and Bolling would have 13. (The conventional wisdom, however, is that Bolling, a Republic, would take away more votes from fellow Republican Cuccinelli than he would from McAuliffe.)

While the two polls diverged in their results, one thing remained clear from both sets of numbers: The Virginia electorate doesn’t really know either candidate, and those who do don’t really like them.

The PPP poll found that 29 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of Cuccinelli, 45 percent had an unfavorable opinion, and 27 percent were unsure. Twenty-five percent of voters had a favorable opinion of McAuliffe, 26 percent had an unfavorable opinion and half the voters, 50 percent, were unsure.

The Quinnipiac poll found that 61 percent of people had not heard enough about McAuliffe to decide whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him. Thirty-three percent had a favorable opinion of the Democrat and 25 percent had an unfavorable opinion. In a November poll, 68 percent of voters hadn’t heard enough about McAuliffe to form an opinion.

Forty-one percent of people didn’t know enough about Cuccinelli to form an opinion of him, 33 percent had a favorable opinion of him while 25 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him.

With so many undecided voters, these numbers shows that it’s an open race and Virginians can expect a lot of advertisement and information being thrown their way as the candidates try to build their names.


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