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The split was similar in the NBC4/NBC/Marist survey; 41 percent of voters had a favorable view of Mr. McAuliffe in that poll compared with 34 percent unfavorable; Mr. Cuccinelli is at 34 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable.

Republicans have continued to raise questions about GreenTech Automotive Inc., the car company formerly run by Mr. McAuliffe that is under investigation by the federal government.

But just 42 percent of registered voters in the Post poll said they have been following the news about the company “very” or “somewhat” closely, and more than half said it wouldn’t affect their vote. The controversy includes questions about the company’s use of a federal program that offers visas to high-dollar investors and allegations that the company guaranteed returns for investors.

Mr. McAuliffe, who announced in April that he had left GreenTech in December, said recently that polls showing the race had been tightening weren’t bothering him.

“I’m not paying attention to polls,” he told reporters. “I feel great about where we are.”

He also dismissed the criticism of his preparedness as “partisan attacks.”

“I think what everybody knows is the amount of time that I have spent traveling to every nook and cranny in Virginia, talking about those issues that matter,” he said. “I have put out a very substantive policy plan on all different issues. This is what I talk about from morning till night, seven days a week.”

Still, some in his own party question whether Mr. McAuliffe has done enough to define his policy priorities.

“If you go out and say, ‘OK, what is the issue other than anti-Cuccinelli?’ it’s difficult to find the Democrats coming up with an issue,” Mr. Wilder said during an appearance Saturday on MSNBC.

The former governor leveled criticism at both candidates, saying the Cuccinelli campaign seems to be running on a platform of obstructing the agenda of national Democrats.

“That’s why the public is saying ‘pox on both of your houses,’” Mr. Wilder said.

Mr. McAuliffe has pledged to reach across the aisle to work with Republicans if he is elected governor. He has touted a host of Republican endorsements in the race this year and pledged to visit every GOP member of the legislature. He reportedly also told the technology council during his endorsement interview that, as an Irish Catholic, he would be adept at taking politicians out for drinks to get things accomplished.

But even that seems an oversimplification of what it might take to win the trust of Republican legislators, given his past rhetoric.

“Democrats are on the side of truth and trusting in the basic decency of working men and women. We don’t have to change who we are or how we think. We just have to make sure we stand up for ourselves and ready for the inevitable Republican smears and attacks, which they have to use because they know they can’t win an honest debate,” he said in his 2007 book, “What a Party!”

The book also contains a candid account of his attitude toward study and preparation from his days at Georgetown University Law Center, which he says he attended while working full time and running four businesses. And how could law school, he writes, compare with hanging with high-powered Democrats like former House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill and Walter “Fritz” Mondale?

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