Democrat Terry McAuliffe holds a 7-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in Virginiaâ€™s gubernatorial election, according to a poll released today by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. With less than a week to Election Day, McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli among likely voters, 45 percent to 38 percent.
The Libertarian candidate, Robert Sarvis, maintains a significant share of likely voters: 10 percent — more than two-thirds of whom say they are casting a protest vote against the major-party candidates. Sarvis is particularly shaving the Republican vote: 37 percent of his voters say they would have voted for Cuccinelli if Sarvis were not on the ballot, compared with 17 percent who would have voted for McAuliffe.
â€œThe Sarvis voters donâ€™t like either Cuccinelli or McAuliffe, but they look like a net loss for Cuccinelli,â€ said Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center. â€œThe fact that Sarvis continues to poll around 10 percent, coupled with the fact that his supporters are becoming as firm in their decision as the McAuliffe and Cuccinelli voters, suggests that heâ€™s not going to fade.â€
Women voters are a force behind McAuliffeâ€™s lead, with the Democrat showing a 16-point gender gap advantage, 51 percent to 35 percent. McAuliffe leads 42 percent to 34 percent among Independents, a crucial voting bloc in Virginia. Democrats appear to be standing behind McAuliffe (93 percent), while the Republican vote is fractured: 7 percent of self-identified Republicans say they will vote for McAuliffe and 8 percent say they will vote for Sarvis, with 80 percent for Cuccinelli.
Northam’s lead “commanding”
In the lieutenant governor election, Democrat Ralph Northam has slightly increased his already commanding lead over Republican E.W. Jackson among likely voters, 51 percent to 35 percent. Northamâ€™s lead was 12 points in the Wason Centerâ€™s Oct. 15 poll release and 11 points in the Oct. 8 release.
In the contest for attorney general, Republican Mark Obenshain and Democrat Mark Herring have been in a statistical tie in all three of the Wason Center polls in October. In this poll, Obenshain leads Herring among likely voters, 45 percent to 43 percent, within the surveyâ€™s margin of error. Unlike his ticket-mates, Obenshain shows bipartisan appeal in this survey, drawing McAuliffe, Sarvis and Northam voters from higher on the ballot.
â€œThatâ€™s a lot of ballot-switching,â€ said Kidd. â€œThe Attorney Generalâ€™s race is the one weâ€™re likely to stay up late for on Election Night.â€
The Wason Center surveyed 1,185 registered Virginia voters, including 1,038 likely voters, Oct. 25-30. The total margin of error is +/- 2.9%; the likely voter margin of error is +/-3.0%.