Poll: Bolling’s exit from Va. governor’s race no help to remaining candidates

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s decision earlier this month to bow out of the Virginia governor’s race doesn’t appear to be helping either of the two remaining major candidates for the November contest.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II — the presumptive Republican nominee — and likely Democratic candidate businessman Terry McAuliffe in a dead heat at 40 percent and 38 percent, respectively. But most voters asked said they didn’t know enough about either candidate to make an opinion.

Cuccinelli’s favorability rating was 30 percent to 24 percent, with 44 percent responding the didn’t know enough about the attorney general, who was elected in 2009. McAuliffe, who also ran for governor four years ago but lost in the Democratic primary, had a favorability rating of 20 percent to 16 percent, with 63 percent of respondents saying they didn’t know enough about him.

According to the poll, there could be a gender gap in the race, with McAuliffe winning women 43 percent to 33 percent, and Cuccinelli having an advantage among men 49 percent to 33 percent. Women’s issues have already factored into the race early, with Cuccinelli drawing a $1.5 million pledge of support from the Susan B. Anthony List in February.

But most Virginians polled are focused on the economy, with 37 percent of those surveyed reporting that issue as the most important, followed by 19 percent who prioritized education, 15 percent taxes and 12 percent the state budget.

Outgoing Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s job approval rating remains largely unchanged after this year’s legislative session, where he led the charge to pass a five-year, $3.5 billion transportation funding overhaul that drew ire from some conservatives as a tax hike. Respondents approved of the Republican governor’s performance by a 53 percent to 26 percent margin, compared to 53 percent to 28 percent in the Feb. 20 poll.

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