Latest poll gives McAuliffe lead in Va. governor’s race

WASHINGTON – A new poll shows Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe with a solid lead over Republican candidate state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as the candidates near the finish line in the Virginia governor’s race.

The latest poll of 1,606 likely voters shows McAuliffe with a 46 percent to 40 percent lead.

“If the Las Vegas bookies were giving odds on this race, at this point, they’d make them very, very long against Mr. Cuccinelli,” says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“The odds are pretty substantial that Terry McAuliffe is going to win,” says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Brown says Quinnipiac polls have registered little change over the past few weeks in the hard-fought campaign.

“Cuccinelli’s path to victory is a very, very difficult one at this stage. He would have to reverse a trend that has been present all year, in that he’s not doing as well among Republicans as McAuliffe is doing among Democrats.” Brown says.

The Quinnipiac poll, which has a margin of error of 2.5 percent, indicates that Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis is pulling 8 percent of the vote. Five percent of likely voters remain undecided.

Sabato says the race for state Attorney General is much closer than the Virginia governor’s race.

“This is where McAuliffe’s margin matters,” Sabato says.

A strong showing by McAuliffe would likely boost the winning chances for Democratic Attorney General candidate Mark Herring. But if the margin is narrow between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, that could raise the prospect of a split ticket with a possible win by Republican candidate for Attorney General Mark Obenshain.

“You’re going to have a certain amount of coat tail,” Sabato says.

The Virginia State Board of Elections says polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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