NBC News/Marist College and the Washington Post Media organization surveyed the Virginia electorate within the last week and though they report some different results, both show that Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe each can win the general election to be Virginia’s next governor.
The Washington Post Media poll (April 29-May 2; 887 registered Virginia voters) gives Cuccinelli a 46-41 percent lead and a major 51-41 percent advantage among an undisclosed number of “likely voters.” NBC/Marist (April 28-May 2; 1,095 registered Virginia voters; 692 likely election participants) posts McAuliffe to a 43-41 percent lead, but shows him trailing 42-45 percent among likely voters.
Remembering that Virginia holds it state elections in odd-numbered years, thus yielding a lower voter turnout, the “likely voter” category appears to be more important. There, both surveys agree that Cuccinelli has a discernible edge.
While the NBC poll shows positive personal ratings for both candidates — Cuccinelli 42:27 percent favorable to unfavorable; McAuliffe 32:24 percent — familiarity with each is low and both are largely a blank slate.
The Washington Post survey delved more deeply into the impressions of each candidate and found that people don’t yet associate anything in particular with either man. When asked what the respondents know about the candidates’ qualifications to run for governor, 70 percent couldn’t respond about McAuliffe, and 52 percent did the same regarding Cuccinelli.
When asked of just the 30 percent who said they did know about McAuliffe’s qualifications what was the first thing that came to mind about him, 36 percent said they had “no opinion,” 17 percent gave a non-discernible answer, and 8 percent responded that he is a Democrat.
Turning to the 47 percent of the sample who said they are familiar with Cuccinelli’s qualifications, 32 percent had no opinion when asked what is the first thing that comes to mind about him, 22 percent gave a non-discernible response, while 7 percent said they associate a desire to grow the economy in order to create more jobs with him. Therefore, it is obvious that neither man is well-defined.
Other polls have shown this race to be a dead heat for weeks, and now that we are beginning to enter prime campaign time, opinions of each man will begin to formulate.
Turnout will be critical in determining the next governor of Virginia, and whichever man does a better job in convincing his supporters to actually vote will be the winner. At this point, these two polls, generally classified as being from liberal sources, detect that Cuccinelli is the beneficiary of the latest trends, but that neither candidate has a focused image.