Tag Archives: Virginia

Is this the Death Knell for Cuccinelli We’re Hearing?

The Washington Post’s latest survey portends good news for Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe and the rest of his ticket, and signals what could be the figurative death knell for Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the state’s gubernatorial contest. All of the various pollsters who have been studying the Virginia governor’s race will be releasing their final numbers in the next few days, meaning we will be exposed to a continual stream of Virginia political data.

According to the Post figures (Oct. 24-27; 1,061 registered Virgnia voters; 762 likely Virginia voters) McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli 51-39 percent, which is the largest Democratic lead recorded in any Virginia poll to date. Dozens of surveys have been conducted in the past eight weeks, reporting remarkably consistent results, with all of them posting McAuliffe to leads but within a five- to eight-point range.

The Post results are both believable and unsurprising. McAuliffe has overwhelmed Cuccinelli with late campaign advertising and continues to feature prominent Republicans around the state who have endorsed him over their own nominee. This has helped achieve McAuliffe’s goal of splitting the Republican base wide open, and thus exacerbate the rift between the Virginia conservative and moderate base Republicans.

According to the Post, the Cuccinelli collapse is likewise beginning to affect the rest of the ticket; in the lieutenant governor’s race, their data shows state Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk/Virginia Beach) running ahead of Republican nominee E.W. Jackson by a 52-39 percent margin. In the attorney general’s race between two sitting state senators, in which Republican nominee Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) has led Mark Herring (D-Loudon County) by small margins for weeks, the Post forecasts a change here, too. The poll yields Herring a slight 49-46 percent advantage.

The Washington Post survey also underscores that McAuliffe’s success in this race is less due to voters’ positive feelings about him than their negative views toward Cuccinelli. Asking people who earlier said they intend to vote for McAuliffe: “is your vote more for McAuliffe or more against Cuccinelli”, only 34 percent of the McAuliffe  Continue reading >

Dems Eye House Takeover

Considering the events of the past few weeks, Democrats are now buoyed over their improved chances of wresting the House majority away from the Republicans next year. Most of the early election cycle analysis has been about the Republicans’ chances in the Senate, but the Democrat’s offensive in district elections certainly deserves further attention.

First, a series of MoveOn.org government shutdown polls in Republican-held congressional districts, 61 to be exact, showed most of those particular GOP incumbents to be already trailing a generic Democrat candidate.

Second, the death of Rep. Bill Young (R-FL-13) opens one of 16 seats that in 2012 voted both for President Obama and a Republican congressman. The special election format could further aid the Democrats in their quest to win this seat.

Third, the surprise retirement announcement from sophomore Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR-2) puts a “Lean Republican” seat into play that had previously elected a Democrat in every term since 1982, consecutively, until the current incumbent won in 2010.

Fourth, the Democratic Party leaders report that their House candidate recruitment has substantially improved.

Though the cumulative effect of these recent events has, at least for the short term, improved the Democrat’s prospects, substantial hurdles remain to be overcome if they are to gain the net 17 seats needed to claim a one-seat majority.

The Dems’ top impediment is the small number of open seats (20), which feature only four currently competitive Republican incumbent-less seats. Therefore, the number of realistic conversion opportunities is modest. In the last cycle, by comparison, the number of open seats was a huge 62.

Second, the Democrats must defend at least 18 of their own seats where Republicans themselves have strong, or relatively strong, conversion opportunities. Realistically, the Dems will have to sweep this category to have any real chance of regaining chamber control.
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New Virginia Polls: Race Not Over

There seems to be an air of defeatism surrounding many Virginia Republicans about the impending governor’s race, but three new polls still show that GOP nominee Ken Cuccinelli is within striking distance of Democrat Terry McAuliffe. All three polls, from Hampton University, Emerson College and the University of Mary Washington, give McAuliffe a lead ranging from five to seven points, with both candidates well under 50 percent – data that hardly concludes the front-runner is on the threshold of clinching the election.

Hampton University (Sept. 25-26 and 28-29; 800 likely Virginia voters) gives McAuliffe a 42-37 percent edge over Cuccinelli, with Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis scoring eight percent. The Emerson College Polling Society (Boston, MA) conducted their survey Sept. 26-30 and interviewed 519 Virginia registered voters. They found McAuliffe to be leading Cuccinelli and Sarvis 43-38-11 percent, a five-point reduction in the Democrat’s lead from the ECPS August poll. Finally the University of Mary Washington (Fredericksburg, VA), conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International during the Sept. 25-29 period of 823 Virginia registered voters (from a total resident sample of 1,001), posts McAuliffe to a 42-35 percent advantage, with Sarvis picking up 10 percent support.

The Sarvis number could be a wild card. Oftentimes when major party candidates display high unfavorable ratings, and all polling has consistently revealed such in this particular race, an Independent can score abnormally high in surveys, often reaching double-digits, as Sarvis is doing here. Such early support for Independents in polls, however, rarely translates into votes on Election Day. Should this pattern hold in the Virginia race, then Cuccinelli could be the benefactor because his lower numbers among conservative oriented independents portend that he is losing more support to Sarvis than is McAuliffe, thus his ability to gain may be greater once these people come to the conclusion that voting for a candidate with no potential to win is a waste.

Polling Segmentation

The Hampton poll segmented the state into regions. McAuliffe runs strongest in the Washington, DC suburbs (50-29 percent),  Continue reading >

Virginia Race Tightens

A brand new Quinnipiac University poll (Sept. 9-15; 1,005 registered Virginia voters) shows Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli closing the gap between he and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe in the state’s gubernatorial race. According to the Q-Poll results, McAuliffe tops Cuccinelli 44-41 percent, a spread now within the polling margin of error. Previous studies from Quinnipiac and a myriad of other pollsters were consistently projecting McAuliffe to be holding a five to seven-point lead during the past month.

Though the trend suggests the momentum may be shifting back to Cuccinelli after going McAuliffe’s way for a considerable period of time, there is a major point of concern for the Republican political forces. Despite Cuccinelli pulling to within three points on the ballot test, his ability to personally connect with voters is poor.

Cuccinelli’s favorability index is an alarming 34:51 percent favorable to unfavorable. McAuliffe’s rating is better, but not stellar. His score is an even 38:38 percent.

There is a two-fold explanation for the Republican’s severely upside down rating. Most acutely, the sampling universe does not believe that Cuccinelli understands their problems. By a margin of 35:56 percent, the respondents believe that the Republican nominee does not understand problems of “people like me.”

Additionally, almost an outright majority of the sample does not believe Cuccinelli is “honest and trustworthy.” In answer to this particular question, the ratio is 39:49 percent with the higher number representing those who do not agree that the attorney general is honest and trustworthy.

The answers to both of these questions highlight a very serious image problem that the Cuccinelli team will have to correct if their candidate is to remain competitive.

McAuliffe does not score particularly well on these questions either, but he is stronger than Cuccinelli. He, too, is upside-down in regard to whether people believe he understands their problems, but is closer to parity than Cuccinelli. By a margin of 40:44 percent, the respondents don’t believe McAuliffe understands their problems. The Democrat, too, sees a higher number of people viewing him as not being particularly honest and trustworthy, but again his rating is not as negative as his Republican opponent’s. McAuliffe’s tally on this question is 39:42 percent.
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Analyzing the Numbers in Virginia Governor’s Race

cuccinelli-mccauliffe

Yesterday, Quinnipiac University released their new Virginia poll (Aug. 14-19; 1,129 likely Virginia voters), which projects former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe to be leading Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) 48-42 percent on the ballot test. This poll actually shows an increase in support for both candidates over their two previous Old Dominion surveys. In July, the Q-Poll gave McAuliffe a 43-39 percent edge, and the May study returned an almost identical 43-38 percent result.

Though the spread between the current numbers is the largest of the campaign according to this pollster, the number of self-identified Republicans (23 percent) and Democrats (30 percent) are the lowest to date. Those describing themselves as Independents or unaffiliated topped 39 percent, the largest number in comparison to the previous surveys.

Curiously, though Cuccinelli has a two point (44-42 percent) preference among Independents, he’s still trailing. He scores a 90-6 percent tally from Republicans, but gets buried 1-92 percent within the Democrat segment.

The Negatives

The way this campaign is going, with both candidates heading toward negative approval ratings – in this survey, Cuccinelli scored a 35:41 percent positive to negative on the personal approval index; McAuliffe 34:33 percent – it is likely that the overall turnout will be depressed. Large numbers of voters expressing continued disapproval of their political choices tend to lead to low turnouts on Election Day. Considering this is an odd-numbered election, which always features a low voter participation rate, 2013 could see one of the lowest-ever turnouts if the current campaign tone continues. As the heat of the contest grows more intense, the tone will likely worsen and not lighten.

Polling this race is difficult because the potentially record low turnout will be a critical determining factor. Virginia Republicans tend to run better in lower  Continue reading >