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Emerson College Polling Society survey joins others showing McAuliffe lead in governor’s race

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A poll released Friday by the Boston-based Emerson College Polling Society shows former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe with a 10-point lead over Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the race for governor.

The survey of 653 registered voters conducted Aug. 23-26 showed 45 percent favored McAuliffe,  35 supported Cuccinelli and 10 percent backed Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, with 11 percent of respondents undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

The poll was released the same day that Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, changed his assessment of the race from “toss-up” to “leans Democratic.”

In a special edition of his Crystal Ball newsletter, Sabato said Cuccinelli had failed to take the lead in the race because of the continuing gifts scandal involving Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, the GOP’s inability to match McAuliffe in fundraising, the negative effects on the Republican ticket caused by the rhetoric of lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson and the defection of a number of moderate Republicans who have endorsed McAuliffe.

Sabato’s newsletter notes that a recent Quinnipiac poll shows McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli 48 to 42 percent while the HuffPost Pollster average shows McAuliffe up by eight points (45.1 to 37.1 percent).

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