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Thursday, April 18, 2024
HomePollsWhy The Latest Virginia Governor Poll Is McAuliffe (D) 45%, Cuccinelli (R) 38%

Why The Latest Virginia Governor Poll Is McAuliffe (D) 45%, Cuccinelli (R) 38%

Democrat Terry McAuliffe has opened up a seven-point lead over Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as the Virginia gubernatorial race enters the post-Labor Day stretch in the latest Rasmussen poll.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Virginia Voters finds McAuliffe with 45% support to Cuccinelli’s 38%. Seven percent (7%) prefer some other candidate, while 10% remain unsure. The Rasmussen results are strikingly similar to the average of polls conducted, but we will get to that in a little bit. If you are wondering how a neck-and-neck race could have possibly opened up as it has, then I may have some insight for you.

Prior to Labor Day, Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley at University of Virginia Center for Politics gauged the race with McAuliffe as the emerging favorite. However, they are wrong in their assessment of “how” the race came to this. They write:

McAuliffe has managed to make the prospect of a Governor Cuccinelli seem scary, while Cuccinelli has “only” succeeded in making McAuliffe look like a run-of-the-mill, self-interested wealthy political hack. In this wholly negative race, that sad distinction matters.

They are wrong because McAuliffe hasn’t managed to do anything, in fact, he is a rather incompetent candidate. But in the era of journalistic character assassination we are in, that doesn’t matter much. And apparently, from the governing competence of Barack Obama, neither does how well the candidate actually fulfills the duty of his office. Nevertheless, think about the claim that Cuccinelli is “scary” as you read what is to come. The following is a breakdown of stories from L. Brent Bozell’s article covering the data found by his organization, the Media Research Center:

1. Cuccinelli has received far more negative coverage than his rival, but stories on both are primarily negative. It’s become obvious that political reporters are looking for attack-of-the-day lines.

In a campaign dominated by each candidate’s negative assessment of their opponent, Terry McAuliffe has received three times as many negative news stories (66) as positive ones (21). But that doesn’t compare with the overwhelmingly dark spin on Cuccinelli, who received only four stories tilted toward a positive angle, and 95 stories accentuating the negative, or a 24-to-1 ratio. On the editorial page, the anti-Cuccinelli slant continues, with seven positive articles to 78 negative ones.

This isn’t journalism. It’s character assassination.

2. Cuccinelli is regularly described as a conservative candidate, which is not just fair but also useful. The reader should know his ideological bent. But how is it that his rival apparently is non-ideological? There were 26 “conservative” labels attached to Cuccinelli in news stories and editorials, but the four newspapers could not muster a single “liberal” label for McAuliffe.

On many issues, the Republican and the Democrat are exact opposites. McAuliffe favors not just abortion on demand, but also abortion paid for by Virginia’s taxpayers. You cannot get more radical than that. He supports gay marriage, Obamacare (even single-payer health care), tax hikes, you name it.

But somehow McAuliffe is given a complete pass. The Washington Post lamely reports he “presented himself as a business-friendly moderate.”

Meanwhile, Cuccinelli is described by a Norfolk reporter as launching “social conservative crusades” and by a ridiculous Richmond columnist as a “strident extremist whose views on social issues make Cotton Mather look like Caligula.”

The newspapers here are reporting hand-in-glove with the McAuliffe theme that Cuccinelli is “too extreme for Virginia,” even though McAuliffe is so left-wing on the social issues he’d please hippies in Vermont — and no one else.

3. Cuccinelli has received twice as many stories on his ethics controversies as his ethics-challenged opponent. During the study period of June 12 (after the Democrat primary) to Aug. 31, 91 news stories and 61 columns mentioned or discussed Cuccinelli’s ethics, most of them referring to his acceptance of gifts from businessman Jonnie Williams. But only 48 news stories and 27 opinion articles talked about McAuliffe’s ethical problems, mostly on his leadership of GreenTech Automotive, which is now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Overall, readers could have found 152 stories on Cuccinelli’s ethics, to only 75 on McAuliffe’s.

But how serious are these ethical issues for each candidate?

Cuccinelli admitted error in failing to disclose gifts from Williams, then asked a Democrat to investigate the matter, who absolved him of impropriety. The End. McAuliffe continues to use the Clinton playbook — dodging, weaving, denying, even lying about charges dealing with massive fraud. Yet Cuccinelli’s “problems” get twice the coverage of his rival.

Virginia is a swing state, with a Republican governor, two Democratic senators and a House delegation that is 8 to 3 Republican. But the purple state’s most influential newspapers are deep blue and are aggressively pushing Virginia to swing to the Left.

Virginians are well advised to get their news elsewhere.

“Scary” perhaps, because no one covers fanatic liberalism which advocates positions that make mainstream Americans, including Virginians, want to throw-up their lunch. “Scary” perhaps, because the media will do everything they possibly can to avoid the socialist single-payer healthcare system that McAuliffe supports, and instead focus on scaring moderate Republican women in Virginia by insinuating that Cuccinelli will rip out their fallopian tubes if he is elected.

It is true that the association between Cuccinelli and the scandal-plagued governor is hurting a candidate who certainly hasn’t done much to help himself. But when we look at the timeline and overlap it with poll results, we cannot help to draw a direct correlation – enough to hint that it is truly more of a causation – for Cuccinelli’s plummet in the polls. The Republican candidate clearly represents the values of Virginians far more closely than Terry McAullife, who has done nothing for Virginia to speak of, and certainly can correctly be accused of having positions that are in line with “Vermont hippies,” rather than either the “Old” or “New” Dominions.

Poll Date Sample McAuliffe (D) Cuccinelli (R) Spread
Average of Polls 8/14 – 9/4 46.0 38.3 McAuliffe +7.7
Rasmussen Reports 9/3 – 9/4 998 LV 45 38 McAuliffe +7
Emerson College* 8/23 – 8/28 653 RV 45 35 McAuliffe +10
Quinnipiac 8/14 – 8/19 1129 LV 48 42 McAuliffe +6
Quinnipiac 7/11 – 7/15 1030 RV 43 39 McAuliffe +4
Roanoke College* 7/8 – 7/14 525 RV 33 39 Cuccinelli +6
PPP (D)* 7/11 – 7/14 601 RV 41 37 McAuliffe +4
Rasmussen Reports 6/5 – 6/6 1000 LV 44 41 McAuliffe +3
PPP (D) 5/24 – 5/26 672 RV 42 37 McAuliffe +5
Quinnipiac 5/8 – 5/13 1286 RV 43 38 McAuliffe +5
Washington Post 4/29 – 5/2 663 LV 41 51 Cuccinelli +10
NBC News/Marist 4/28 – 5/2 692 LV 42 45 Cuccinelli +3
Roanoke College 4/8 – 4/14 RV 27 35 Cuccinelli +8
Quinnipiac 3/20 – 3/25 1098 RV 38 40 Cuccinelli +2

Prior to this bombardment of negative coverage for Cuccinelli in May, he held a rather wide lead in the Virginia governor race. But negative press can counter the electability of the candidate who has consistently served Virginia in a positive way, and won the “who would you rather have a BBQ with” question. If we observe the polling average data from March and beyond, then we can see the influence of the Washington Post and others who want to have their quintessential Washington insider in the Virginia governor’s mansion.

Mr. L. Brent Bozell is correct. Virginians “are well advised to get their news elsewhere.” Yet until Republicans understand that this is now the normal electoral landscape, with a liberal-dominated media which requires calling them out directly on their extremist positions, Republican candidates will continue to lose the purple and red state battles. In fact, this late-race opening up of a lead, reminds me of another recent Democratic candidate who snatched victory away from the Republican’s hands, all because the Republican refused to fight back with the vigor and conviction that is now required to win in American politics.

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

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