The race to become Virginia's next governor remains tied, even if Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling leaves the Republican Party and runs as an independent, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday.
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are tied in a head-to-head matchup, the poll shows, with each party's likely nominee garnering 38 percent of the vote. One percent of registered voters would vote for someone else, 2 percent wouldn't vote, and 21 percent are undecided.
McAuliffe wins 83 percent of Democrats, compared to Cuccinelli's 87 percent of Republicans. The two candidates run neck-and-neck among independents, with Cuccinelli edging McAuliffe, 33 percent to 29 percent.
Men favor Cuccinelli by a 10-point margin, 44 percent to 34 percent. But McAuliffe wins female voters by 9 points, 42 percent to 33 percent.
The results are statistically unchanged from early January, when McAuliffe led Cuccinelli, 40 percent to 39 percent.
If Bolling decides to mount an independent bid -- he's expected to announce his decision next month -- the race remains tied. McAuliffe inches in front of Cuccinelli, 34 percent to 31 percent, but the difference between the two candidates is within the poll's margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.9 percentage points. Bolling would draw 13 percent in a three-way contest, the poll shows, including 5 percent of Democrats, 10 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of independents. This result, too, is unchanged from the previous poll.
All three candidates remain well-liked, if not well-known. Each posts a favorable rating higher than their unfavorable rating, but 60 percent of voters haven't heard enough about McAuliffe to form an opinion, while 72 percent say the same of Bolling. Cuccinelli has the highest name-ID in the poll, but 44 percent of voters still haven't heard enough about him.
Term-limited GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell remains popular, according to the poll. A 53-percent majority approves of the way McDonnell is handling his job as governor, compared to only 28 percent who disapprove.
The poll was conducted Feb. 14-18, surveying 1,112 registered voters.
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