A week ago, the aftermath of the federal government shutdown appeared to doom Republican hopeful state Attorney General Ken Cuccinellis bid to become the next governor of Virginia. Now two polls find Cuccinelli closing the gap on former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe in next weeks election.
Quinnipiac University released a poll on Wednesday which finds McAuliffe in the lead with 45 percent with Cuccinelli right behind him with 41 percent. Libertarian Robert Sarvis continues to poll strong, taking 9 percent. This poll stands in sharp contrast to surveys released last week showing McAuliffe starting to pull away from the Republican.
"State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is nipping at Terry McAuliffe's heels as the race to be Virginia's next governor enters the final week of the campaign," said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "It goes without saying that turnout is the key to this race and the harshly negative tone of the campaign is the kind that often turns off voters."
Brown said Sarvis could lose support in the final week which could prove decisive.
"With the race this close, the final decision by the roughly one in 10 voters who are supporting Libertarian Robert Sarvis has become even more critical, Brown said. Nationally, third-party candidates often lose support in the end as voters enter the voting booth and back someone they consider the lesser of two evils. Only six in 10 Sarvis supporters say they definitely will vote for him. Almost nine in 10 McAuliffe and Cuccinelli backers are committed.
"Cuccinelli seems to be benefiting from Republicans coming home, but McAuliffe still does a little better among Democrats than Cuccinelli does among GOPers, Brown added. And, McAuliffe leads among independents, perhaps the key voting group. It is difficult to see Cuccinelli winning if he can't run at least even or slightly ahead among independents. Here, too, Sarvis' voters matter greatly since the Libertarian is getting 16 percent of independents, but only 9 percent overall."
The poll of 1,182 likely voters was taken Oct. 22-28 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent.
Rasmussen Reports also released a poll on Wednesday showing Cuccinelli narrowing the gap, though it does not have the race as close as Quinnipac.
The Rasmussen poll of likely voters has McAuliffe leading with 43 percent and Cuccinelli behind him with 36 percent. Sarvis breaks double didgits in the Rasmussen poll with 12 percent.
Last week, Rasmussen released a poll finding McAuliffe crushing Cuccinelli, beating him by 17 percent.
The new Rasmussen poll of 1,002 likely Virginia voters was taken Oct. 28-29 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.