Public Policy Polling has released some new results on the Virginia races for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General. In their survey of 601 registered voters finds:
- Terry McAuliffe leading Ken Cuccinelli 41-37 (Governor)
- Ralph Northam leading E.W. Jackson at 42- 35 (Lt. Governor)
- Mark Herring leads Mark Obenshain 38-36 (Attorney General)
Couple of things to keep in mind about this poll. First, it is of registered voters. That statewide races in Virginia following the Presidential race always have a big drop off in turnout, so it’s likely or very likely voters that really matter.
Second, the Libertarian candidate is pulling 7% in the Governor’s race. Will that number hold? I doubt it if only because people won’t take the time to vote for someone who they know is going to lose.
Where will those people go is a big question. My gut instinct is that these are socially moderate Republicans who don’t like Cuccinelli’s obsession with abortion and gay people. So if the subject is economics (taxes and regulations) they’ll probably hold their nose and vote GOP but if it’s social issues (abortion and gay rights) they’ll either stay home or hold their noses and vote McAuliffe.
For the GOP nationally this race is kind of a big deal.
Remember Obama and Tim Kaine both won the state less than a year ago. So a Republican win, especially a sweep, would be a nice way to say “we can win in this now competitive state.” Given how conservative the ticket is it would bolster the argument from Tea Partiers and other activists that the way to win is by running real conservatives.
However if they lose one or more of the statewide races it will inflame the conversation about the party being out touch with minorities and moderates. Either way, Virginia tells us a great deal about the current and future state of the GOP.