Poll: Bolling wouldn’t alter Virginia governor’s race

Third-party bid by lieutenant governor seen unlikely to tip contest to McAuliffe

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For the second time in a week, Virginia poll results suggest an independent gubernatorial run by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling would have little effect on likely Republican nominee Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II in a contest with Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

A survey released Tuesday by Roanoke College shows that more than 40 percent of Virginia voters are undecided on who should be the state’s next governor, but the early results indicate a third-party challenge from Mr. Bolling, a Republican who has hinted at an independent run, would not split the GOP vote and tip the balance in Mr. McAuliffe’s favor as some analysts have predicted.

The Roanoke College poll shows Mr. Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general, leading Mr. McAuliffe 33 percent to 26 percent in a hypothetical two-man race that does not include Mr. Bolling, with 41 percent of respondents undecided.

The 7-point gap between the candidates dropped to 6 points in a three-way race, with 25 percent of respondents favoring Mr. Cuccinelli, 19 percent choosing Mr. McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, and 12 percent favoring Mr. Bolling.

Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Public Policy released a poll last week that showed Mr. McAuliffe leading Mr. Cuccinelli in a two-man race, 31 percent to 30 percent, with 33 percent of respondents undecided.

With Mr. Bolling in the race, the two major candidates were tied at 27 percent with the lieutenant governor garnering 9 percent of the vote. In that case, 34 percent of respondents were undecided.

Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center, said Mr. Bolling’s support appears to come largely from moderate and independent voters and that he is just as likely to pull Democrats from Mr. McAuliffe as he is to pull Republicans from Mr. Cuccinelli — making his participation a virtual wash in the race.

“He’s really not a populist personality,” said Mr. Kidd, who estimated Mr. Bolling could get about 10 percent to 15 percent of the vote in a general election. “I just think he would have a hard time breaking through unless he was so well-funded that he could break his way through.”

Even as close observers are buzzing over the prospect of an expensive and competitive race between the two front-runners ahead of November’s election, pollsters say the general public is unlikely to tune in for at least a few more months.

“As much as the political class pays attention this early on, I think most people probably aren’t paying much attention to it,” Mr. Kidd said. “I think that naturally, most people will start paying attention some time in October.”

Harry Wilson, director of Roanoke College’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research, said the candidates are still “fairly blank slates” in most voters’ eyes. The college’s poll showed that 62 percent of voters say they don’t know enough about Mr. McAuliffe to form an opinion on him, while 60 percent say the same applies to Mr. Bolling and 46 percent have no opinion on Mr. Cuccinelli.

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