In the race to replace Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, a new pair of polls shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe has emerged with a lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli going into the final stretch ahead of the November vote.
McAuliffe tops Cuccinelli 47 percent to 39 percent, according to a poll released Tuesday by The Washington Post. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis also picks up 10 percent of the vote. In a head-to-head match-up, McAuliffe's lead shrinks to just 49 percent to 44 percent over Cuccinelli. The Washington Post poll surveyed 812 registered voters from Sept. 19 to 22 and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
Another survey, released Monday by NBC4/NBC News/Marist, has McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli 43 percent to 38 percent with Sarvis at 8 percent. The NBC poll surveyed 1,069 registered voters from Sept. 17 to 19 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.
The two major party candidates have been locked in a race to the bottom, as neither man is seen by voters as particularly likable. McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee fundraiser, has suffered from some failed business ventures, including an electric car company called GreenTech that never lived up to his job growth promises. Cuccinelli, meanwhile, is serving as Virginia's current attorney general, but has been defined by his social conservative views by the McAuliffe campaign, which has hurt the tea party-backed Cuccinelli with women voters.
The Washington Post poll showed Cuccinelli is the better known candidate, but to his detriment. While 48 percent see McAuliffe favorably compared to 36 percent unfavorably, Cuccinelli is underwater, with just 40 percent seeing him favorably compared to 47 percent unfavorably.
And though the "economy and jobs" is the top concern with 29 percent of the voters, far outstripping any other, such as ethics and honesty at 8 percent or education at 7 percent, it's clear the advertising campaign around social issues is having an impact. When asked who would do a better job with issues concerning women, voters responded with 48 percent for McAuliffe, 25 percent for Cuccinelli. On other issues, such as transportation and the economy and jobs, the two men are tied.
Despite the polling, the race is far from a lock for McAuliffe, as Cuccinelli has a more reliable voting base, particularly in a non-presidential voting year. Turnout, therefore, is going to be one of the key factors in the race.