In a survey of 1,004 adults (not registered or likely voters), a University of Mary Washington poll finds Terry McAuliffe up by 1 over Ken Cuccinelli in this year’s race for Governor and Sen. Mark Warner currently leading Gov. Bob McDonnell 51 to 35 in a hypothetical Senate match up in 2014.
Warner, a former Virginia governor in his first term in the U.S. Senate, said recently that he plans to run for re-election. McDonnell, whose term-limited tenure as governor expires next January, is the strongest potential Republican challenger to Warner, should he choose to enter the race.
In the survey, McDonnell received 52 percent job approval, comparable to the figure he has received in other recent surveys. Only 26 percent polled say they disapprove of the governor’s job performance.
“The good news for the governor is that state residents continue to think very highly of him,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at UMW and director of the university’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “The bad news is that McDonnell is term-limited and the next statewide election – the 2014 U.S. Senate contest — doesn’t seem all that appealing.”
Big grain of salt with this one, folks. For starters, it’s a survey of adults without any question as to their voting status. Secondly, it’s asking about a hypothetical race still over a year and a half away. A majority of Virginians probably couldn’t tell you where they’re going to spend their July 4th holiday THIS year let alone precisely how they’re going to vote in November, 2014.
That said, no one can deny that Mark Warner is a very popular man and any challenger will have his work cut out for him.
In this year’s gubernatorial race, UMW’s poll finds Terry McAuliffe with a one point lead over Ken Cuccinelli, 38 to 37.
A gender gap is not evident between these two candidates. Women support McAuliffe by a 41 percent to 39 percent margin for Cuccinelli, while men favor the Republican by a 43 percent to 42 percent margin.
So far, there are few partisan defections in this race. McAuliffe enjoys the support of 83 percent of the Democrats, with only 7 percent of them backing the attorney general. Cuccinelli enjoys the support of 87 percent of the Republicans, with only 4 percent backing the Democrat. Independents are basically split: 36 percent back the attorney general and 35 percent back McAuliffe.
Considering the poll’s R/D/I split of 27/35/33 this bodes well for Cuccinelli. While this split matches exit polling of 2008 and 2012’s results, it falls well short of a fairly even split in turnout for the Governor’s race in 2009. Enthusiasm will be key.
The demographic numbers are very different from last week’s Quinnipiac release which showed Cuccinelli leading independents by 8 and among men by 10 points but trailing McAuliffe among women by 16. Quinnipiac also gave Cuccinelli 2% of Democratic support while McAuliffe only pulled 3% of Republicans. Whether this is due to a difference overall sampling or demographics (each poll defines regions differently and Quinnipiac doesn’t ID how many respondents from each) isn’t entirely known.
Polls this far out are going to be nebulous until the campaigns really being the efforts of defining one another. While that’s already started on both sides (see Cuccinelli’s April Fools joke for an example) expect it to pick up as summer approaches.