VA Poll: Cuccinelli Trails McAuliffe While E.W. Jackson Leads Lt. Gov. Race

A new Virginia poll has found Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is losing by five points to Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the gubernatorial contest, and E.W. Jackson, the black conservative and lieutenant governor candidate, leads in his race.  

The poll found that McAuliffe had 42% of the vote while Cuccinelli had 37%. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, who has been harsher on Cuccinelli than McAuliffe during the campaign, received 8% in the poll. The race could still go "either way," but McAuliffe leads because of his strong support among black women and his liberal base, getting more support from Democrats than Cuccinelli gets from Republicans.

According to the Hampton University poll, Jackson, a candidate the political experts said would hurt Cuccinelli's chances of winning the election, actually leads his opponent, Democrat Ralph Northam, with 39 percent of the vote. Northam receives 38 percent. Jackson leads even though he has a favorable rating of 17 percent and an unfavorable rating of 18 percent, because he most likely has retained support from the conservative base. 

The poll found that McAuliffe has his lead over Cuccinelli because of McAuliffe's strong support among the state's black voters, particularly black women:

McAuliffe's support is strong among women and African-Americans. These two voter segments are providing him with the lead. Among women voters, McAuliffe has 47 percent, Cuccinelli has 32 percent and Sarvis has 7 percent. Among white women, the two are statistically tied, McAuliffe 41 percent Cuccinelli 40 percent voter support. Sarvis has 7 percent. However, among African-American women, McAuliffe leads with 71 percent to Cuccinelli's 2 percent voter support. Sarvis has 7 percent.

Based on historic averages, African-Americans will account for approximately sixteen (16) percent of all voters on election day. McAullife's support among this key voter group is providing him with the lead. Among African-American voters, McAuliffe has 73 percent, and both Cuccinelli and Sarvis have 5 percent each. Among white voters, Cuccinelli has 45 percent voter support, McAuliffe 37 percent and Sarvis 8 percent.

McAuliffe is also maximizing his support among his base, which is the strategy that works best in low-turnout elections:

Among Democrats, McAuliffe has 83 percent, Sarvis has 5 percent and Cuccinelli has 4 percent.

Among Republicans, Cuccinelli has 78 percent, McAuliffe has 9 percent and Sarvis has 5 percent.

Among Independents, Cuccinelli has 33 percent, McAuliffe has 33 percent, and Sarvis has 15 percent.

If reasonable predictive models hold true, Democrats will likely account for 35 percent of the electorate. Independents will account for 33 percent; and Republicans will account for 33 percent.

Here is the regional breakdown of the Hampton University poll: 

McAuliffe dominates in the fast growing Washington D.C. suburbs with 50 percent voter support. Cuccinelli has 29 percent and Sarvis has 9 percent. The Washington D.C. suburbs will account for 25 percent of the overall vote and is McAuliffe's home base.

In the Northern Virginia exurbs, Cuccinelli's home base, Cuccinelli has a strong lead with 45 percent voter support. McAuliffe has 33 percent and Sarvis has 8 percent.

In the greater Richmond area, Cuccinelli has 35 percent, McAuliffe has 43 percent and Sarvis has 9 percent.

The race is tighter in Central Virginia, McAuliffe has 47 percent, Cuccinelli has 51 percent and Sarvis has 4 percent.

In the Hampton Roads/Tidewater area, McAuliffe has 49 percent, Cuccinelli has 30 percent and Sarvis has 8 percent.

In Southwestern Virginia, Cuccinelli has 48 percent, McAuliffe has 31 percent and Sarvis has 9 percent.

Finally, in Southeastern Virginia, McAuliffe has 46 percent, Cuccinelli has 37 percent and Sarvis has 8 percent.

In the Attorney General's race, Republican state Senator Mark Obenshain, the son of the late Richard Obenshain, leads his opponent by four points. He is viewed most favorably of any of the statewide candidates, with "a favorable rating of 20 percent and an unfavorable rating of 9 percent."

The poll "was conducted on September 25-26 and 28-29 and included 804 registered voters who said they were 'likely' to vote." The poll's margin of error is +/- 2.9 percentage points. 


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