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The Democrats’ New Dominion

FAIRFAX, VA - OCTOBER 28: Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia, thanks supporters after speaking at a 'Get out the Vote' rally October 28, 2013 in Fairfax, Virginia. Cuccinelli is running against Democratic candidate Terry McAullife in a very close race.
National Journal
Josh Kraushaar
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Josh Kraushaar
Oct. 29, 2013, 7:40 a.m.

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.”

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