WASHINGTON – Democrat Terry McAuliffe will officially kick off his campaign for governor this week with a series of policy speeches across the state.
The campaign comes as a new Washington Post poll shows voters have not really begun to follow the race between him and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
The poll found that barely 10 percent of Virginia voters are following the race “closely” and nearly half of the voters are undecided.
Seventy percent of the state’s voters know little or nothing at all about McAuliffe, who has never held public office before, and that number includes 65 percent of Democrats. Fifty-two percent of voters say they know little about Cuccinelli’s qualifications for the job.
Steve Farnsworth, a professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington, says the results are not surprising.
“Right now people are much more worried about weddings and college graduations and how to get their summer vacation together,” he says.
The race is drawing intense scrutiny across the country as the lone competitive match-up in November.
The poll shows Cuccinelli with a 46 to 41 percent lead. That number jumps to 51 to 41 percent among likely voters.
“The challenge for both candidates is to get people out and excited and interested about this race,” says Farnsworth. “If you don’t know who the candidate is you’re not gonna vote for them.”
The poll, taken between April 29 and May 2, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
What the poll means at this point in the campaign is not certain. Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia sent out a Twitter message saying he has gone back through a series of spring polls in 11 contests for governor in Virginia. Polls in 8 of the 11 contests turned out to be incorrect in predicting the eventual outcome of the election.