The Washington Times - May 29, 2013, 02:04PM

A new poll shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Ken Cuccinelli by 5 percent points in the 2013 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.

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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 percent. The poll wasn’t authorized or paid for by any campaign or political organization, though PPP is a Democratic-leaning organization.

Republican Party of Virginia has dismissed the poll, saying PPP’s status as a Democratic-leaning pollster renders the survey’s results meaningless.

“A Democrat polling firm backed by Democrat donors pushing a Democrat candidate. Forgive me if I’m struggling to see the news here,” said Virginia GOP spokesman Jahan Wilcox.