Democrat Terry McAuliffe maintains a 7-point edge over Republican Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II in the race to be Virginia's next governor, with Libertarian Robert Sarvis still pulling numbers that suggest he could influence the final outcome of the closely watched contest on Tuesday.
Among likely voters, Mr. McAuliffe takes 45 percent of the vote in the final poll from Christopher Newport University's Wason Center for Public Policy, compared to 38 percent for Mr. Cuccinelli and 10 percent for Mr. Sarvis.
The Democrat's lead is fueled by a 51 percent to 35 percent advantage among women; he also has the support of 7 percent of Republicans, compared to Mr. Cuccinelli's being backed by just 1 percent of Democrats. Independents favor Mr. McAuliffe by an 8-point margin, 42 percent to 34 percent.
Sixty-eight percent of Sarvis voters say they're voting as a form of protest to show dissatisfaction with the two major-party candidates in what has been a notably negative and nasty campaign. If Mr. Sarvis was not a choice, 37 percent of his voters would vote for Mr. Cuccinelli, 17 percent would vote for Mr. McAuliffe, and 38 percent would not vote.
Notable, however, is the fact about 70 percent of Sarvis voters say they're very firm in their choice — a comparable number to Mr. Cuccinelli's 79 percent and Mr. McAuliffe's 82 percent.
"The Sarvis voters don't like either Cuccinelli or McAuliffe, but they look like a net loss for Cuccinelli," said Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center. "The fact that Sarvis continues to poll around 10 percent, coupled with the fact that his supporters are becoming as firm in their decision as the McAuliffe and Cuccinelli voters, suggests that he's not going to fade."
The poll of 1,185 registered voters, conducted from Oct. 25-30, includes 1,038 likely voters; the likely voter margin of error is 3 percentage points.
Voters do not register by party in Virginia, but 31 percent of respondents self-identified as Republicans, 30 percent said they were Democrats, and 33 percent said they were independent.
Mr. McAuliffe holds an 8.5-point lead in RealClearPolitics' latest average of recent polls.
Another survey from the Emerson College Polling Society, which uses an automated data collection system, put the race at a virtual dead heat, with Mr. McAuliffe leading Mr. Cuccinelli by two points, 42 percent to 40 percent, and 13 percent opting for Mr. Sarvis. That lead for Mr. McAuliffe is inside the poll's margin of error of 3.24 percent.
That survey of 874 likely voters was taken from Oct. 25-30.
Mr. McAuliffe holds a 7.7-point lead in RealClearPolitics' latest average of recent polls.
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