Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has widened his lead over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, thanks primarily to the support of likely women voters, according to a new poll that separates the two by 8 percentage points.
The Washington Post-Abt SRBI poll,
conducted Sept. 19-22, shows the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee is leading with 47 percent support among likely voters compared to 39 percent for the GOP's Cuccinelli.
Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, meanwhile, pulled 10 percent support among those surveyed, suggesting voters are not fully satisfied with either the Democratic or Republican candidate. For example, in a one-on-one matchup without Sarvis, McAuliffe's lead shrinks to 49 percent compared to 44 percent for Cuccinelli.
The poll of 1,003 Virginia adults indicates that female voters are driving McAuliffe's lead. He holds a 24-point lead among women over Cuccinelli, which could be a reflection of the Democrat's campaign strategy of highlighting Cuccinelli's strong anti-abortion position.
"Virginians are siding with Terry McAuliffe’s mainstream business approach over Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme ideological agenda," McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin said in a statement on the survey, according to Politico
. "The more voters learn about Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme record, the more concerned they are."
The poll also showed that 47 percent of all respondents view Cuccinelli unfavorably compared to 36 percent who view McAuliffe unfavorably. They also trust McAuliffe as much or more than Cuccinelli on every major issue in the race.
Both candidates, however, have been bruised by scandal. Cuccinelli was linked to questions surrounding GOP Gov. Robert McDonnell after it emerged that both men had accepted extravagant gifts
from Star Scientific Chief Executive Jonnie Williams.
McAuliffe's campaign, meanwhile, has been plagued by a federal investigation
into GreenTech, the electric car company he co-founded that critics say was a scheme to attract investors to his political campaign.
Until the Post poll, most surveys had McAuliffe only slightly ahead of Cuccinelli or dead even. For example, an NBC4/NBC News/Marist poll
of 1,069 registered voters conducted Sept. 17-19 showed McAuliffe in the lead among likely voters at 43 percent compared to 38 percent for Cuccinelli.
Just one week ago, a Quinnipiac University survey
said the race was too close to call.
The Post survey comes as McAuliffe and Cuccinelli are preparing to go head-to-head in a televised debate on Wednesday.
"Our campaign feels very good about our position heading into Wednesday’s pivotal Fairfax Chamber of Commerce Debate. This contest has been and remains a close race featuring a significant percentage of undecided voters," Cuccinelli campaign communications director Richard T. Cullen told Politico.
"It’s important to note that Ken Cuccinelli has a significant enthusiasm advantage and Terry McAuliffe has a history of losing support towards the end as voters learn more about him."
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