CNU poll shows McAuliffe up 7 points over Cuccinelli

A new poll by Christopher Newport University shows Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe holding a seven-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli II amid signs that backlash over the federal government shutdown is hurting Republicans more than Democrats.

McAuliffe’s lead narrowed slightly from CNU’s poll of the race a week ago but remains within the range of a string of recent polls showing the McLean businessman with an edge in the closing days of the race.

Among likely voters, McAuliffe has 46 percent support compared with Attorney General Cuccinelli’s 39 percent with three weeks to go before Election Day, according to the poll released Tuesday by CNU’s Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy. The poll found Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis with 11 percent support.

A Wason Center poll released Oct. 8 showed McAuliffe leading by nine points, 47 to 38 percent, among likely voters. That poll also showed Sarvis with 8 percent.

Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center, said in a written statement that the latest poll shows that the government shutdown is turning some voters against Cuccinelli.

Although most respondents said that neither candidate for governor bears responsibility for the standoff in the nation’s capital, among the 13 percent who do cast blame, 47 percent hold Cuccinelli responsible compared with 7 percent for McAuliffe, Kidd said. The poll found that likely voters who have been affected by the shutdown or who know someone who has been affected prefer McAuliffe to Cuccinelli by a margin of 49 percent to 34 percent.

The poll also showed a 14-point gender gap in McAuliffe’s favor. Among women, McAuliffe received 51 percent, compared with 37 percent for Cuccinelli. The poll also found that McAuliffe’s support among African-American voters has reached levels of support given to President Obama in 2012, an increase since the poll a week ago.

The poll also found that McAuliffe holds a lead among independents, though that edge has dropped 10 points, from 16 percent to 6 percent, since the Wason Center’s poll on Oct. 8.

On downballot races, the poll found that Sen. Ralph S. Northam (D-Norfolk) has taken a 12-point lead over GOP nominee E.W. Jackson in the race for lieutenant governor, while the attorney general’s race is too close to call. The latest polls show Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonbur) with a slim edge over Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun). Obenshain received 46 percent, compared with Herring’s 45 percent, a lead within the poll’s margin of error.

The Wason Center surveyed 944 registered Virginia voters, including 753 likely voters, Oct. 8-13, with an overall margin of error of 3.1 percent. The margin of error among likely voters is 3.6 percent.

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