By Dave Andrusko
Next Tuesday Virginians will elect a new governor. The choices could hardly be more stark. Ken Cuccinelli is the pro-life Attorney General; Terry McAuliffe is a pro-abortion Democratic operative with close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The major newspapers loathe Cuccinelli and have clobbered him hammer and tong. Negative advertising by the McAuliffe camp and his pro-abortion allies (such as Planned Parenthood’s political arm) has washed over the airwaves in Northern Virginia where my family lives.
But with just a handful of days to go, Cuccinelli received his first good news in a long while.
The respected Quinnipiac University Poll finds “Democrat Terry McAuliffe clinging to a slight 45-41 percent likely voter lead over Republican State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and 9 percent for Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis.” While these are much different results than recent polls have found, it’s some of Quinnipiac’s internals that offer reason for hope.
For example, while there are only 4% of likely voters who say they are undecided, another 7% of those who picked a candidate say there’s a “good chance” they will change their mind before November 5.
As Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said, “State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is nipping at Terry McAuliffe’s heels as the race to be Virginia’s next governor enters the final week of the campaign.” And, of course, “It goes without saying that turnout is the key to this race and the harshly negative tone of the campaign is the kind that often turns off voters.”
If the race is as close as the Quinnipiac University Poll says it is, then the key is the Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis. Typically, support for third party candidates wanes the closer it comes to Election Day.
So while “Almost nine in 10 McAuliffe and Cuccinelli backers are committed,” we learn that “Only six in 10 Sarvis supporters say they definitely will vote for him.”
There is also the composition of Sarvis’s supporters. “Here, too, Sarvis’ voters matter greatly since the libertarian is getting 16 percent of independents, but only 9 percent overall.” Since McAuliffe is doing very well among Independents, it is vital that Cuccinelli pick up from the Independents who currently say they would vote for Sarvis.
The poll’s sample is very large and the margin of error quite small, according to Quinnipiac. 1,182 likely voters were surveyed between October 22 and October 28 “with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.”