By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
FREDERICKSBURG – A three-way race for Virginia governor has Democrat Terry McAuliffe edging Republican Ken Cuccinelli 34-31, according to a Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday.
Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling garners 13 percent in the survey of 1,112 registered voters sampled Feb. 14-18. Bolling, who suspended his bid for the GOP nomination, said he will announce on March 14 whether he will run as an independent.
If Bolling stays out of the race, McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, and state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli deadlock at 38 percent, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Hamden, Conn.-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
The latest results — which showed 21 percent of respondents undecided about the fall contest — remain almost identical to Quinnipiac’s findings on Jan. 9. Both polls showed McAuliffe and Cuccinelli in a statistical tie.
“Although the folks in Richmond are playing close attention to the political maneuvering around the governor’s race, Most Virginians have not yet begun focusing on it,” Brown said.
Neither McAuliffe nor Cuccinelli has particularly strong appeal at this point, with Cuccinelli’s favorable/unfavorable rating at 30-25 versus McAuliffe’s 23-16.
Bolling’s job-approval rating is 36-18, compared with Cuccinelli’s 41-32.
“Bolling probably has the greatest growth potential of the candidates, but he also has the farthest to go to become a major contender,” Brown said.
“At this point, the data indicate that Bolling’s GOP critics who say he can’t win as an independent, but might tilt the result to McAuliffe, could be on to something.”
In a three-way race, Bolling gets 10 percent of Republican voters, but just 5 percent of Democrats. Independents broke 25 percent for Cuccinelli, with McAuliffe and Bolling each garnering 21 percent.
State legislators fared poorly in the poll, with the General Assembly pulling down a 46-38 disapproval rating. The survey gave lawmakers a 43-39 approval score on Jan. 9, before the legislative process was in full swing.
Contact Kenric Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward