Democrat Terry McAuliffe has a 6-point lead over Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, with McAuliffe taking 48 percent to Cuccinelli's 42 percent among Virginians likely to vote in this year's election.
Neither candidate is especially popular, and both have faced a spate of unflattering headlines: Cuccinelli received thousands of dollars in gifts from a controversial political donor, while an electric car company McAuliffe helped to found is under investigation by the SEC.
Voters were torn on McAuliffe, with 34 percent viewing him favorably, 33 percent unfavorably, and 31 percent saying they hadn't heard enough. Cuccinelli had more detractors, with 35 percent rating him favorably, 41 percent unfavorably, and 22 percent undecided.
Few believe the race has focused on the issues: only 32 percent said Cuccinelli spends more time outlining his ideas than attacking McAuliffe, and just a quarter thought McAuliffe spent more of his time explaining his platform.
A 56 percent majority said that Cuccinelli has the right experience for the job, while 46 percent said the same of McAuliffe. Neither got high marks for understanding voters' problems (37 percent for Cuccinelli, and 38 percent for McAuliffe) or for honesty (42 percent for Cuccinelli, 39 percent for McAuliffe).
The two candidates for lieutenant governor remained largely unknown, with three quarters or more of voters expressing no opinion.
Although this survey is the first released on the race since mid-July, polling has consistently shown a close race between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli. Quinnipiac's previous polls this May and July, surveying a wider pool of registered voters, gave McAuliffe a 4-point and 5-point lead, respectively. HuffPost Pollster's estimate, which includes all publicly available polling, currently puts McAuliffe ahead.
The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,129 likely voters by phone between Aug. 14 and Aug. 19.
CORRECTION: This post originally said Virginia's candidates for lieutenant governor and governor run on the same ticket. They do not.