Terry McAuliffe (Maddie Meyer/The Washington Post)
Terry McAuliffe (Maddie Meyer/The Washington Post)

A new Quinnipiac poll of likely voters shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli 48 to 42 percent. Here are four takeaways:

Cuccinelli, as I predicted, has a gender-gap problem, trailing among women by 12 points while running even with men. He has tried to lure women voters by reminding them of his work against sexual assault and human trafficking, but those issues don’t grip most Virginia women. His stance on abortion and his less-than-warm-and-fuzzy personality pose the greatest barrier.

Cuccinelli’s unfavorable number is way up (41 percent view him negatively). In what has been a fairly negative campaign on both sides, Cuccinelli may have failed to first lay a positive foundation about himself.

Cuccinelli is the darling of the far right, and that is worrisome. A loss in a winnable purple state will hammer home the point that extreme ideologues don’t play well outside strictly conservative enclaves.

The Star Scientific factor has finally emerged. Pollster Peter Brown explains: “It seems obvious that Gov. Bob McDonnell’s political troubles are hurting fellow Republican Cuccinelli. Guilt by association may not be fair, but it sure is politically powerful. Trust matters and at this point neither man is doing all that well in that category.” We’ve suggested that Cuccinelli needs to distance himself dramatically and definitively from McDonnell.

There is plenty of time until the election, and many voters have yet to focus on the race. That said, Cuccinelli has his work cut out for him.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.