Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli II (Steve Helber/Associated Press)
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli II (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

The latest Quinnipiac poll underscores the plight of Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli ll. He trails Democrat Terry McAuliffe 47 to 39 percent, with libertarian Robert Sarvis pulling 8 percent. The other key numbers:

Women back the Democrat 53 – 34 percent, with 7 percent for Sarvis.  Men go Republican 45 – 41 percent, with 9 percent for Sarvis. . . . Virginia likely voters give McAuliffe a split 41 – 40 percent favorability, compared to Cuccinelli’s negative 39 – 49 percent favorability.  For Sarvis, 80 percent don’t know enough to form an opinion.

And in what surely must be a blow to Cuccinelli, who has spent much of the campaign painting McAuliffe as a business cheat, 42 percent of voters think McAuliffe is honest and trustworthy, and 37 percent don’t. Cuccinelli is viewed as honest and trustworthy by 41 percent, with 46 percent saying he is not. Interestingly, voters don’t like the shutdown (71 percent to 24 percent), but Republicans narrowly support it (48 percent to 45 percent).

The numbers show Cuccinelli isn’t in sync with voters beyond his core supporters, is not likable and has failed to sufficiently wound his opponent. That is the profile of a losing candidate in a swing state.

Quinnipiac also polled the New Jersey governor’s race where Gov. Chris Christie is running away with it. He leads overall by 29 points (62-33), among women (59-36) and among independents (71-22). This is more extraordinary when one consider this is New Jersey — which President Obama won in 2012 by approximately 17 points. That means Christie is running 46 points ahead of where Mitt Romney wound up in 2012.

It’s a bit comical when you look at these figures that the national right-wing echo chamber loves Cuccinelli and seems to think Christie is the devil incarnate. (All those independents are voting for him — must be something wrong with him!) This raises a few key points.

First, following the loudest right-wing voices can be a tragic miscalculation since their views depart dramatically from that of real voters in real elections. The litmus test for the right wing is often the poison for key groups of voters.

Second, Republicans don’t need to win, for example, women, Hispanic or African American voters in 2016 to be successful; they just have to do a better than Romney did while also turning out their base. Republicans who want intellectual purity will look to Cuccinelli-type candidates while those desperate to win will look to popular governors who have demonstrated the ability to attract voters outside the conservative base.

Third, no one expects a Republican to carry New Jersey in the 2016 presidential election; the key states are likely to remain the stable of familiar swing states (e.g. Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania). Given the party and demographic breakdown of these states, it stands to reason that a candidate who can win in the Northeast or Midwest is going to be better positioned than a candidate who is struggling in one or more of those states. (If you can win in blue states, you can win in purple states; if you can’t win in purple states, you’re not getting to the White House.)

And, finally, this is consistent with the mantra that every Republican should be repeating: Any governor over any senator. Or they could find another Ken Cuccinelli and lose the must-win states.

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