New poll says McAuliffe lead drops to 5 points over Cuccinelli

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According to a new poll released Thursday by the Boston-based Emerson College Polling Society, the Virginia governor’s race is tightening.

A survey of 519 registered voters conducted Sept. 26-30 found that Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has cut Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe’s 10-point advantage in late August to 5 points, with 43 percent of those polled favoring McAuliffe to 38 percent for Cuccinelli.

Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis held steady at 11 percent, and 8 percent of the sample was undecided. The poll, by a student organization at Emerson College, has a margin error of plus or minus 4.25 percent.

It found that McAuliffe continues to be the favorite to win the election with 50 percent of voters — regardless of whom they support — saying McAuliffe would win while only 32 percent said Cuccinelli would emerge victorious.

In an August ECPS poll on the race, 46 percent believed McAuliffe would be elected and 30 percent said Cuccinelli.

The attack ads between the campaigns continue to lower the public’s attitudes about the candidates with both holding unusually high unfavorable opinions with McAuliffe's at 47 percent (+3 since August), and Cuccinelli’s at 58 percent (+5).

About half of the independent voters had a negative opinion towards both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli (50 percent and 54 percent respectively), and 62 percent of African-Americans had an unfavorable opinion of Cuccinelli.

The independents’ vote has shifted away from McAuliffe over the last month from 42 percent down to 30 percent while Cuccinelli now has 36 percent of the independent vote.

The poll found that both candidates have support from 18-34 year olds (44 percent for McAuliffe and 37 percent for Cuccinelli) but Cuccinelli is leading among 75 and older voters 48 percent - 40 percent. McAuliffe is winning the minority vote among African-American voters, 66 percent to 23 percent.

The last ECPS poll on the Virginia gubernatorial race will be Nov 1.

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