With 24 hours until Election Day, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe with a 6-point lead over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate and Tea Party favorite.
Among likely voters, McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli 46-40 percent. A similar survey in October by Quinnipiac showed McAuliffe leading 45-41 percent.
Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate, continues to peel away a small but crucial percentage of conservatives from Cuccinelli. Sarvis currently holds 8 percent of the vote.
"Libertarian Robert Sarvis continues to get almost one in 10 votes, apparently taking many of the Republican and independent votes Cuccinelli needs," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"If Sarvis' supporters stay with him in those numbers it is difficult to see where Cuccinelli can find enough votes to turn his fortunes around.
The Virginia governor's race is being watched on the national level by media outlets and political parties of all stripes. That's partly because it is one of only two gubernatorial contests in 2013 – the other, in New Jersey, has incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Christie holding firm with a commanding lead over his Democratic challenger.
But the race here in Virginia is much closer. Though McAuliffe continues to hold a lead outside the margin of error, polls have varied widely over the last three weeks - with some showing the Democrat with a 12-point lead, and others having it as narrow as three.
The latter would make the race statistically too close to call.
"Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli made the race to become Virginia's next governor interesting," Brown said.
"But barring a late surge of Republicans returning to the fold and independents jumping on the GOP train, Terry McAuliffe has a small but steady lead that is formidable entering the final day of the campaign."
Cuccinelli's gender gap problem persists. He has a slight 2-point lead among men, 44 percent to McAuliffe's 42 percent, but among women he lags behind his Democratic challenger by 14 points: McAuliffe has 50 percent to Cuccinelli's 36.
And with members of their own party, McAuliffe gains the upper hand: 93 percent of Democrats report they'll vote for their party's candidate, while only 85 percent of those in the GOP say they'll back Cuccinelli.
"To make a comeback in the final hours Cuccinelli will need to take virtually all the undecided; peel off a few percent from Sarvis and hope that his turnout operation is superior to that of McAuliffe," Brown added.
"Obviously that is a longshot formula for victory."
From October 29 – November 3, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,606 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.
Tuesday, December 10 2013 11:36 PM EST2013-12-11 04:36:40 GMT
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Richmond Times Dispatch
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