- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Likely Republican candidates have a slight early edge over potential Democratic opponents in the 2013 Virginia governor’s race, new poll figures released Wednesday show.

The liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling firm shows Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling with a 5-point lead over former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, at 38 percent to 33 percent, and a 7-point lead, 39 percent to 32 percent, over former Rep. Tom Perriello, who lost his bid for re-election in 2010 to Republican Robert Hurt.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II leads Mr. McAuliffe by 3 percentage points, 41 percent to 38 percent, and is up 5 percentage points on Mr. Perriello at 41 percent to 36 percent.

The poll comes a day after another PPP poll showed Mr. Bolling trailing Mr. Cuccinelli in a potential Republican primary in the 2013 Virginia governor’s race

Mr. Bolling has announced his intention to run for governor, while Mr. Cuccinelli has said he would consider a run. Mr. McAuliffe, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in 2009, has not officially declared his intention to run but is widely considered to be preparing a bid. Mr. Perriello, who remains popular among the Democratic Party base, is frequently mentioned as a possible candidate.

Still, there is a long way to go. Sixty-six percent of those polled don’t know enough about Mr. Bolling, in his second term as lieutenant governor, to have formed an opinion on him, compared to 64 percent for Mr. Perriello, 59 percent for Mr. McAuliffe, and 35 percent for the conservative firebrand Mr. Cuccinelli.

A poll in June 2008 had Gov. Bob McDonnell leading state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, the eventual Democratic gubernatorial nominee, 32 percent to 27 percent before cruising to a 17-percentage-point win. Virginia, though, with off-year elections, has a three-decade pattern of electing a Democratic governor with a Republican in the White House or vice versa.

“Obviously this race is a ways off but Republicans start with a modest advantage and that’s about what you would expect in Virginia,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling.

PPP surveyed 500 Virginia voters from July 21st to 24th, and the poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

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