Public Policy Polling
VIRGINIA - GOVERNOR
McAuliffe (D) 46
Cuccinelli (R) 41
January 08, 2013
PPP's first Virginia poll of 2013 finds Terry McAuliffe leading Ken Cuccinelli 46-41. When Bill Bolling is thrown into the mix as an independent candidate he gets 15%, with McAuliffe's lead expanding to 8 points at 40/32.
The story of the race at this point is really how unpopular Cuccinelli is. Only 29% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 45% with a negative one. Even among Republicans there are significant doubts about him- only 48% see him favorably with a much higher than normal 23% of voters within his own party seeing him negatively.
That pause about Cuccinelli among Republicans is a big part of why McAuliffe has this early 5 point lead. 11% of Republicans say they would cross over to support McAuliffe if Cuccinelli was the nominee, compared to only 6% of Democrats who say they would vote for Cuccinelli. McAuliffe also has a 43/39 lead with independents, who give Cuccinelli a 31/46 favorability spread.
McAuliffe is essentially functioning as a generic Democratic candidate at this point. Only 51% of voters are familiar enough with him to have an opinion and those who have one are pretty evenly divided about him with 25% rating him favorably and 26% unfavorably. His early lead has more to do with voters disliking Cuccinelli than actually liking him.
The most popular potential candidate in terms of net favorability is Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. Only 45% of voters have an opinion about him, but among those who do 29% see him favorably to only 16% with an unfavorable opinion. If he ran as an independent candidate he would get 19% of the Republican vote but only 3% of the Democratic vote, speaking again to the concerns many GOP voters have about Cuccinelli. The race would be something approaching a three way tie among independent voters with McAuliffe at 30%, Cuccinelli at 27%, and Bolling at 24%.
Usually the party that won the Presidential election loses the next Gubernatorial election in Virginia...but at least at this early stage it looks like Cuccinelli's unpopularity could be enough to overcome that strong historical trend.