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The candidates themselves have turned more recently to unveiling nascent policy outlines — something Mr. Kidd expects will continue past Saturday’s nominating convention.

“In some ways, we can only go up,” he said. “I think we’ll have more substance than we’re giving them credit for.”

Recent polls show a close race, with much of the electorate undecided or unfamiliar with one or both of the candidates months away from Election Day. Dueling surveys released Thursday gave Mr. McAuliffe a 5-point lead among registered voters in a poll from Quinnipiac University, while Mr. Cuccinelli led by 8 points among likely voters in a poll conducted for the conservative advocacy group Citizens United.

Though outside groups are starting to elbow their way in, Mr. McAuliffe is outpacing Mr. Cuccinelli in the money game. The Democrat amassed $6.3 million from July through March and ended that period with about $5.2 million on hand. Mr. Cuccinelli, meanwhile, raised $4.4 million since January 2012 and had nearly $3 million on hand as of March 31, 2013.