McAuliffe Continues To Lead In Virginia, Shutdown Hurting Cuccinelli


Another poll out of Virginia shows that Terry McAuliffe continuing to lead Ken Cuccinelli in the Governor’s race, and that voter anger over the government shutdown is at least part of the reason for it:

Virginia voters looking for somebody to blame for the government shutdown impacting federal workers in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads have settled on gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who trails Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe by seven points in a new Christopher Newport University poll.

The school’s Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy poll, released Tuesday morning, finds that likely voters prefer McAuliffe 46 percent to 39 percent for Cuccinelli. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis wins 11 percent. Only 4 percent of likely voters are undecided.

Those results, depressing to the Virginia attorney general’s camp, are almost identical to the school’s last poll conducted a week ago that put Cuccinelli’s support at 38 percent, McAuliffe at 47 percent and Sarvis at 8 percent.


According to the school’s release: “Most voters say neither candidate bears any responsibility for the shutdown, but among the 13 percent who cast blame, far more blame Cuccinelli (47 percent) than McAuliffe (7 percent). Likely voters who are affected by the shutdown or who know someone affected prefer McAuliffe to Cuccinelli, 49 percent to 34 percent.”

Kidd said, “The shutdown is definitely motivating some voters against Cuccinelli, who already had a Tea Party problem with Independents and business-minded Republicans.”

Quite obviously, of course, as a state official rather than a Federal officeholder Cuccinelli bears no real responsibility for the shutdown. Indeed, as I’ve noted before, Cuccinelli has taken pains to distance himself from the National GOP on this issue, to the extent of making sure he wasn’t photographed with Ted Cruz at a recent (non-campaign) fundraiser that they two happened to be speaking at. At the same time, though, it’s clear that the generally negative numbers that the GOP as a whole is seeing as the shutdown goes on are rubbing off on the Virginia Attorney General notwithstanding his efforts to make clear to voters that he doesn’t support the shutdown. Even if the shutdown does end in the next few days, it’s likely this negative sentiment is going to continue right up to Election Day on November 5th.

Perhaps even more distressing for the Cuccinelli camp, though, is that their recent efforts to turn the tables on McAuliffe don’t seem to be gaining much traction at all, and that Cuccinelli is experiencing problems with Virginia Republicans:

Independents, however, are moving to Cuccinelli. The poll found that McAuliffe’s lead among independents dropped from 16 percent in last week’s poll to 6 percent. But, the school said, “Cuccinelli continues to struggle within his own party, with 13 percent of Republicans saying either they plan to vote for Sarvis or they are undecided.”

If that continues through Election Day, then Cuccinelli pretty much no chance of winning.

Taking a look at the RealClearPolitics averages, McAuliffe now has a +7.2 lead in a head-to-head matchup with Cuccinelli and a +6.8 lead if Sarvis is included. That’s well outside the margin of error, of course, and certainly sets up a daunting task for Cuccinelli over the next three weeks. Turning the race around at this point is going to become even harder than it was a month ago.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. wr says:

    Apparently Cuccinelli thinks Virginia voters are morons. He “took care not to be photographed with Cruz” while appearing at a fundraiser with him. Well, obviously there’s no connection between them as long as there’s no photographic proof!

  2. michael reynolds says:

    No responsibility? Bull. He’s a Republican. His party is doing this, therefore he is responsible.

  3. As noted in one of the links in the article, Cuccinelli has spoken out against the shutdown quite often.

  4. rudderpedals says:

    Have any viable candidates for any meaningful office spoken out in favor of this government shutdown? Even Cruz is against the shutdown.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If you join the Crips you’re a Crip and bear moral responsibility for what your gang does. Criticizing while belonging, while adding your numbers to the criminal activity underway, does not magically excuse you.

  6. bandit says:

    @michael reynolds: You’ve reached the zenith of your non stop avalanche of idiocy. He’s a state office holder. Try to comprehend the difference.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    @bandit: So what? Voters don’t make distinctions between state and national parties. It’s like trademarks. Federal Republicans == State Republicans.

    Also considering that the Big Cooch has already pissed off a sizeable number of people, the fact that he looks like he’s palling around with the Federal Republicans just gets the tar splashed more all over him.

  8. Tom Strong says:

    Cuccinelli may have disavowed the shutdown, but he is most definitely from the wing of Republicans who are most enthusiastic about it. Up until the shutdown loomed, he consistently took hard-right positions on EVERYTHING, most notably immigration, abortion and gay rights. He’s been an outspoken advocate of the Tea Parties for years now. It’s transparently obvious that his opposition to the shutdown is a purely political calculation, and Virginia voters are smart enough to see that.

  9. michael reynolds says:


    He’s a creep in a party of creeps. If the party in question were the Communist Party would you be as glib? No. But the GOP is far more destructive to the United States and to democracy generally than the Communist Party of the US ever was.

    What the GOP is doing now is wicked. It is anti-American. It is undemocratic. And if you’re in that party then all those adjectives apply to you.