- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A new poll shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II by 5 percentage points in the Virginia governor’s race, though both candidates are having a tough time winning the hearts of voters.

Mr. McAuliffe leads Mr. Cuccinelli 42 percent to 37 percent, according to results of a Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday. But the Democrat is perceived favorably by just 29 percent of potential voters, while 33 percent hold an unfavorable view.

The poll also shows Republican candidate for lieutenant governor E.W. Jackson trailing either of two possible Democratic opponents, with more respondents saying they view him unfavorably than favorably.

Twenty percent said they have an unfavorable view of Mr. Jackson, who won the nomination at the May 18 GOP convention, compared to 9 percent who said they viewed him favorably. The vast majority, 71 percent, said they had no opinion of him.

A Harvard Law School graduate and the first black candidate Republicans have chosen to run statewide since 1988, Mr. Jackson has been slammed by critics for statements he made in the past likening Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan and saying that gays are “very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally, and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Cuccinelli’s favorability rating also is solidly negative, with only 32 percent of voters viewing the Virginia attorney general positively, while 44 percent hold a negative view.

And neither candidate is uniformly popular in his own party, as Mr. McAuliffe — a former Democratic National Committee chairman — elicits negative or neutral opinions from 43 percent of potential Democratic voters, while 44 percent of Republicans say they dislike Mr. Cuccinelli or aren’t sure.

“The governor’s race is shaping up exactly as expected — voters don’t care for either Ken Cuccinelli or Terry McAuliffe,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “But at this point they have a bigger problem with Cuccinelli than they do with McAuliffe.”

The automated telephone survey, conducted Friday through Sunday, has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points. The poll wasn’t authorized or paid for by any campaign or political organization, though PPP is a Democratic-leaning organization.