Public Policy Polling manipulated its numbers to skew results in its newest poll on the Virginia governor's race, state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said.
Republican Cuccinelli is in a hotly contested campaign against Democrat Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
The Politico poll
— conducted by the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling and Republican company Harper Polling — shows McAuliffe opening a 9-point lead over Cuccinelli in the country's only competitive governor's race.
Cuccinelli's campaign immediately blasted the survey.
"We reject the findings within this poll," spokesman Richard Cullen said in a statement. "One of the polling outfits that conducted this survey has been exposed by a number of neutral news outlets for withholding poll numbers that were unhelpful to its Democratic friends.”
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Both polling organizations blame the federal-government shutdown for Cuccinelli's drop in popularity.
Virginia has been particularly hard-hit
by the week-old shutdown, as hundreds of thousands of residents there work for the federal government, and particularly the military.
Other polls show that the Republicans are receiving the most blame
for the shutdown.
“Absent a shutdown, the Cuccinelli campaign could be making a play to capitalize on voters’ largely negative reviews concerning the implementation of Obamacare,” said Harper's Brock McCleary. PPP's Tom Jensen said results show public opinion of Republicans is worsening "as voters revolt against them over the shutdown."
The poll of 1,150 likely voters, conducted over the weekend, gave McAuliffe 44 percent of the vote and Cuccinelli at 35 percent, just four weeks until the election.
Independent Robert Sarvis received 12 percent. In a two-way race, the gap grows to 10 points — McAuliffe with 52 percent to Cuccinelli's 42 percent.
Separate questions showed 62 percent of those polled oppose the government shutdown. Most of those who oppose it back McAuliffe.
Virginia has been saturated with polls in the run-up to the election, with 17 over the past two months, according to Real Clear Politics
. Nearly all have given McAuliffe single-digit leads.
McAuliffe's lead in the Politico poll is his largest since an Emerson College poll in late August also gave him a 10-point lead in a head-to-head race with Cuccinelli.
Neither Cuccinelli nor McAuliffe is popular within the state, Politico says.
"For much of the year, the Virginia race has been an exercise in mutual annihilation between two unpopular candidates, a dynamic that held up in this poll: Nearly half of likely Virginia voters — 49 percent — have an unfavorable opinion of McAuliffe while 39 percent said they have a favorable opinion," Politico said.
"Mirroring a trend in other recent public polls, Cuccinelli’s favorability numbers are worse: Only 34 percent of voters viewed him favorably, and a 56 percent majority viewed him unfavorably."
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Bad press has plagued both candidates.
An electric-car company McAuliffe founded has been the target of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/03/us/clouds-spread-to-democratic-side-of-virginia-governors-race.html?pagewanted=all The New York Times reported. African American groups http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/naacp-to-cuccinelli-stop-comparing-obamacare-to-slavery have criticized Cuccinelli for implying a connection between the pre-Civil War abolitionist movement and opposition to Obamacare.
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