Two new polls sure to shake up the Virginia gubernatorial race suggest that longshot Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is mounting a last minute comeback, prompting front-runner Terry McAuliffe to bring in a big gun to keep his hopes alive: the original Comeback Kid, former President Clinton.
A new Wenzel Strategies survey of likely voters suggests a 1-point race, with McAuliffe at 41 percent and Cuccinelli at 40 percent. Other polls have given McAuliffe a double digit lead.
But Wenzel echos a new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday showing McAuliffe’s lead shrinking to just 4 points.
What’s key about the Wenzel poll is that it built a turnout model based on how Virginia actually votes, weighting the sample at 28 percent Democrats, 26 percent Republicans and 46 percent independents. “This reflects the swing-state tradition of Virginia that has lately leaned toward Republicans in statewide, non-presidential years, but has tilted to the Democrats in recent presidential elections,” they said.
“This reflects a slight tightening of the race,” added Wenzel.
The pollsters suggested that Cuccinelli's assault on the unpopular Obamacare is helping his case to Virginians. McAuliffe, who has embraced Obamacare, is spending the week campaigning with his mentor, Clinton, in a bid to get his side excited and show up at the polls next week.
Clinton and McAuliffe have been desperately urging voters to join their bid. "Terry needs us," Clinton pleaded in an email. "No one is running for president this year and we're still a year from the midterm elections. So some people might be tempted to think this election is less important than last year's. Don't be one of those people," added Clinton.
Most polls have found that voters are turned off by the gubernatorial race and generally don’t like the candidates.
The Wenzel Strategies survey shows voters are split on both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli. While 45 percent said they have a favorable opinion of McAuliffe, 46 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. For Cuccinelli, 47 percent hold a favorable opinion, while 50 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him.Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.