- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The 2013 Virginia governor’s race is a dead heat and is unlikely to be affected by the possible third-party candidacy of Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, according to a poll released Wednesday.

A Quinnipiac University poll shows Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe and Republican Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II tied at 38 percent in a hypothetical two-way race that excludes the Republican lieutenant governor, who is mulling a bid and is expected to announce next month whether he will run.

Including Mr. Bolling in the race gives Mr. McAuliffe a slight edge of 34 percent over Mr. Cuccinelli’s 31 percent and Mr. Bolling’s 13 percent, but pollsters said it is far too early in the race to designate a favorite.

“Although the folks in Richmond are paying close attention to the political maneuvering around the governor’s race, most Virginians have not yet begun focusing on it,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Political observers have suggested that an independent gubernatorial run by Mr. Bolling could tip the scales in Mr. McAuliffe’s favor by attracting some Republican and moderate votes away from Mr. Cuccinelli.

However, Wednesday’s poll is the third in the past month to suggest that Mr. Bolling is far behind the other two candidates and that his presence is unlikely to swing the race.

Wednesday’s poll also found that Mr. Cuccinelli has the highest name recognition of the three candidates, with approval and disapproval ratings of 30 percent and 25 percent. Mr. McAuliffe’s ratings were 23 percent and 16 percent.

Mr. Bolling had approval and disapproval ratings of 18 percent and 10 percent, with 72 percent of voters saying they did not know enough about him to form an opinion.

The poll also showed that voters are split on whether Mr. Cuccinelli should resign from office to concentrate on his campaign, as has been the long-held tradition by attorneys general who entered the governor’s race.

Among respondents, 44 percent said Mr. Cuccinelli should resign and 43 percent said he should finish his term. Voters preferred that Mr. Bolling stay in office if he runs for governor by a margin of 48 percent to 36 percent.

Gov. Bob McDonnell remains popular according to the poll, with 53 percent of voters approving of his performance to just 28 percent disapproving.

Nearly 80 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independents and 32 percent of Democrats approve of the Republican governor’s performance.