Republicans and Democrats operatives agree that Ken Cuccinelli is heading to a resounding defeat in next week's Virginia governor's race, potentially by a double-digit margin to Terry McAuliffe. But the new Washington Post/Abt-SRBI poll, consistent with other reputable statewide surveys, shows just how grim things have gotten for the state Attorney General.
-- Terry McAuliffe, despite his reputation, ends the campaign well-liked. A clear majority of likely Virginia voters (53%) view him favorably, with 44% viewing him unfavorably. A 55% majority are satisfied with the field. Few of the damaging stories about McAuliffe's business record stuck. By a 9-point margin, McAuliffe is seen as "more honest and trustworthy." And Cuccinelli, in part because of his troubled relations with the GOP-leaning business community, has been badly outraised and unable to drive home a sustained, anti-McAuliffe message on the airwaves.
-- The federal government shutdown doomed Cuccinelli's campaign. Over two-thirds of voters said the issue was important to them, with 55% declaring it "very important." A whopping 82% of Virginians disapprove of the government shutdown, including 68% of Republicans. Just over half blame Republicans in Congress, and over one-third said they were inconvenienced by the shutdown. (In fact, slightly more Republicans than Democrats in Virginia are employed by the federal government, per the survey.)
-- Libertarian Robert Sarvis isn't a spoiler. Sarvis, who polls at 8%, is at least taking as many votes from McAuliffe than from Cuccinelli. Polled on who their second choice would be, 53% of Sarvis supporters would back McAuliffe, with 42% supporting Cuccinelli. (It's a small subsample, but other surveys also point to a fairly even split.)
As NJ's Beth Reinhard first reported, things have gotten so bad that GOP efforts and money are now concentrating on saving the one salvageable downballot race -- the state AG contest. "This should have been a slam dunk. Virginia almost always votes against the president's party," former Virginia GOP congressman Tom Davis told The Hotline. "Republicans need to ask what's wrong with our business model here."