Virginia's Republican nominee for governor Ken Cuccinelli barely trails Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe, despite a barrage of negative press surrounding Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, a slew of criticism of his own lieutenant governor running mate, and a salvo of media broadsides against him, according to Public Policy Polling.
According to the just-released poll, among likely voters in Virginia this fall, former Democratic National Chairman McAuliffe, leads Cuccinelli, the state attorney general, by a margin of 41 percent to 37 percent statewide. In a state where third-party candidates don't usually fare well, Libertarian nominee Robert Sarvis ran third with a surprisingly strong 7 percent of the vote.
The survey was conducted as Cuccinelli has been trying to distance himself from McDonnell in the wake of reports that the lame-duck governor and wife Maureen received numerous financial favors from Northern Virginia multimillionaire Johnnie Williams, who is also a supporter of Cuccinelli.
Moreover, much of the Old Dominion press and a number of Republicans have criticized Republican lieutenant governor nominee E.W.Jackson for controversial remarks he made while a pastor. These range from strong language about gays to saying blacks experienced more damage from Planned Parenthood than they did from the Ku Klux Klan.
As to how to interpret the poll results, Virginia Republicans who talked to Newsmax had a wait-and-see attitude.
Former Republican Rep. Tom Davis, past chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Newsmax: "The Libertarian candidate, Johnnie Williams, and an unbalanced ticket make what should have been an easy race into an uphill battle."
"Terry McAuliffe continues to raise a disproportionate percentage of his campaign contributions from outside the Commonwealth of Virginia, which speaks volumes as to the strength of his candidacy among Virginia voters," former Prince William County Supervisor John Stirrup told Newsmax.
"The validity of a poll taken in July as an indicator of the November outcome is questionable at best," Stirrup said. "Once Labor Day arrives and the majority of Virginia voters begin concentrating on the general election — those polls will be more valid."
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