The economy and jobs are the dominant issues in the race — 45 percent of registered voters volunteer that those are the biggest factors in their votes, and Cuccinelli holds an 18-point lead among these voters. No other subject cracked the double digits.
Harry Wilkinson, 40, a music teacher from Chantilly, is backing McAuliffe because of his positions on issues including abortion, gun rights and health care.
“I think Terry McAuliffe is really confronting the issues that Democrats are concerned with,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson also said he feels as if the commonwealth is more divided than usual, by region and party. “I think Northern Virginia and southern Virginia are farther apart than they’ve ever been,” he said.
Overall, 45 percent of Virginia voters say they are satisfied with the choice between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, while 40 percent say they wish someone else were running. Few of those in either camp described themselves as “very enthusiastic” in their support.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) has said he won’t enter the race as an independent, but he has until June 11 to submit signatures to get on the November ballot.
In a three-way contest, the poll shows, Bolling gets the support of 15 percent of registered voters and 13 percent of likely voters. The data show Bolling siphoning votes about equally from the two sides.
Patrick Johnson, 41, a self-described independent who teaches online college courses in Christiansburg, is a tepid McAuliffe supporter. But the idea of a three-way race intrigues him.
“If Bolling comes in, I would definitely have to consider Bolling,” Johnson said.
Mike Salyer, 62, a retired state government worker from Yorktown, is a Cuccinelli backer who also wishes he had more candidates to choose from. But he’s not a big fan of Bolling’s, either.
“I wish there was someone else in the race,” Salyer said. “Just like I wished there was someone else in the last two presidential races.”
The Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone April 29 to May 2 among a random sample of 1,000 adults in Virginia, including 887 registered voters and users of both conventional and cellular phones. The results among registered voters have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
Cohen is director of polling for Capital Insight, the independent polling group of Washington Post Media. Capital Insight pollsters Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement and Washington Post staff writers Fredrick Kunkle and Errin Whack contributed to this report.