As the two candidates in Virginia's governor's race enter the final stretch this fall, it is starting to look like it's Democrat Terry McAuliffe's to lose.

A Public Policy Polling survey of 500 likely voters just released has the former Democratic Party boss seven points up over GOP challenger Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. That's a one point gain over a Quinnipiac University poll released last week and a three point gain over a similar PPP poll from last month.

In the new PPP poll, 44 percent support McAuliffe, 37 percent Cuccinelli, 9 percent libertarian Robert Sarvis and 9 percent are undecided.

That suggests there is room for Cuccinelli to gain in the fall when he is expected to step up his campaign, but his unfavorability rating might stop that cold.

PPP said that both men have higher unfavorability than favorability ratings, showing that voters continue to dislike their choice this year in the gubernatorial race. But Cuccinelli's are higher.

For the attorney general, 54 percent have an unfavorable view and 35 percent a favorable one. For McAuliffe, it's 48 percent unfavorable to 36 percent favorable.

The poll, distributed by the League of Conservation Voters, also asked a climate change question, finding that most don't think it is an important issue in the race. But when asked who they would trust on the issue, McAuliffe beat Cuccinelli 41 percent to 18 percent.

The GOP panned the poll. Michael Short, of the Republican National Committee, told Secrets: "It's a partisan poll commissioned by a partisan organization devoted to destroying the fossil fuel industry and released on the same day both major candidates attended an energy forum. Given the obvious political calculus involved and the contradictory data buried in the crosstabs, it should be dismissed out of hand."

In the poll, conducted August 27-27, 74 percent were white and the party breakdown was 35 percent independent, 35 percent Democratic and 30 percent Republican.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at