The Virginia race for Governor is this year’s premier political event. The Commonwealth holds elections for state offices in off-years and limits it Governors to one term in office, making competitive contests for the top office every 4 years. This year’s election pits GOP Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli against Democrat fundraiser Terry McAuliffe. A new Washington Post poll shows Cuccinelli with a strong 10-point lead over McAuliffe among likely voters.
In the head-to-head match up among likely voters, Cuccinelli garners 51% to McAuliffe’s 41%. Importantly, Cuccinelli cracks the 50% threshold, giving him a critical edge going into the final months of the campaign. Cuccinelli is best known for filing a legal challenge to ObamaCare. While the Supreme Court ultimately held-up the law, the Cuccinelli’s action seems to have garnered approval from voters.
Among registered voters, Cuccinelli’s margin is narrower, but still a solid 5-point lead, 46-41%. Polls of registered voters tend to give Democrats a slight advantage, so its telling that McAuliffe’s support didn’t increase at all in the larger sample.
In recent years, the Virginia Governor’s race has been won by the party out-of-power in the White House. The GOP won during Clinton’s presidency, the Democrats won during Bush’s presidency. In 2009, even though Obama had won the state in 2008 and enjoyed record-high approval ratings, GOP candidate Bob McDonnell won office in a landslide.
The Washington Post poll suggests that trend will continue this year.