In a gubernatorial race where Virginia voters are putting the trust issue foremost, a new statewide poll says Democrat Terry McAuliffe has a clear lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli.
Quinnipiac University's just-released survey of 1,129 likely voters found that 48 percent supported McAuliffe to 42 percent who backed Cuccinelli, the state attorney general.
The poll indicates a big gender gap, with McAuliffe leading 50-38 percent among women. The candidates are statistically tied with men.
A majority of voters also said they think do not think Cuccinelli does has an “understanding of the problems of people like you” by a 51-37 percent margin. Most voters also think McAuliffe does not understand the problems of regular voters, but he fares better than Cuccinelli -- 38 percent said he understands; 42 percent said he does not.
Neither candidate is well-liked in the poll, but Cuccinelli comes off worse than McAuliffe.
Just 35 percent of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of the attorney general, while 41 said they have a negative one. For McAuliffe, 34 percent have a favorable impression and 33 percent have a negative one.
But that means lots of voters are still undecided about how they feel about the former Clinton fundraiser and Democratic party chairman.
In response to the poll, the Cuccinelli campaign tried to hit McAuliffe on the issue of trustworthiness.
“Terry McAuliffe and his liberal allies have spent millions of dollars on attack ads that have been found to be false by a number of third-party fact-check organizations,” said Cuccinelli spokesperson Anna Nix, who continued:
“Despite the barrage of negative attacks, the race for governor is extremely close and will remain as such. Going into the fall in an off-year election, when voters focus to a greater degree on the gubernatorial contest, the dishonest comments McAuliffe has perpetuated about his background and business record will be front and center, as will the two federal investigations involving his former car company. At the end of the day, Ken Cuccinelli’s positive vision and substantive plans for Virginia’s future, compared to Terry McAuliffe’s flawed record as a failed job creator and political influence peddler, will carry the attorney general to victory.”
Trustworthiness was the respondents' top concern, as 93 percent of respondents ranked it as very important or extremely important to them.
Forty-two percent considered Cuccinelli trustworthy while 43 percent said he's not. Thirty-nine percent found McAuliffe trustworthy compared to 36 percent who said he isn't.
The poll also found that Virginians think the race has been overwhelmingly negative and majorities say both candidates have spent more time attacking their opponent rather than explaining what they would do as governor.
Yesterday, McAuliffe received plenty of good press because of a GOP consultant and former Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who switched to endorse McAuliffe. The Cuccinelli campaign today is pushing that the Farm Bureau's AgPAC has endorsed him.
The poll is based on telephone interviews from Aug. 14-19. McAuliffe's lead is just outside the poll's margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.