As a battleground state, Virginia garners much attention leading up to elections. In 2012, it held one of the most expensive senate races in the United States history between former governors Tim Kaine and George Allen.
Now, according to the first PPP poll for the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Terry McAuliffe leads his opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, by five percentage points — 46 to 41. This is just outside the margin of error.
This marks McAuliffe’s second attempt at the governor’s office. Ken Cuccinelli is the standing Attorney General in Virginia and has greater name recognition, but also a much higher unfavorability rating among Virginians at 45 percent.
McAuliffe”s favorability/unfavorability split of 25/26 is understandable since over half of voters know of him. The highest office McAauliffe has held was DNC chairman. Coincidentally, Tim Kaine also held that position.
Ken Cuccinelli won the Republican primary easily. His closest competition was Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, who is considering running in the general election as an independent. Conventional wisdom would dictate that the more votes the conservative-leaning independent Bolling receives, the less that will go towards Cuccinelli.
One of McAuliffe’s greatest assets is his diverse business background. He was quick to point to his goal for a diverse energy sector in Virginia in a 2011 Huffington Post interview.
“I spent five hours in a coal mine a few months ago. I wanted to have a better understanding of their work. I would never look those people in the eye and take away their jobs. We’re always going to need coal energy. But we do need to re-work our grid and diversify to create more jobs and remain competitive.”
Another poll also had McAuliffe leading, albeit by one point, 40% to 39%. Just like the PPP poll, the Quinnipiac Poll also points to the unrecognizable aspect for both candidates.
That is due to change as the race continues, but funding will also increase the closer the candidates get to Election Day. The Koch brothers will likely play a major role in funding Cuccinelli’s campaign. They share Cuccinelli’s disbelief in global warming and favor coal and oil over sustainable energy.
Bill Clinton is Terry McAuliffe’s close friend and, together, their connections will make for a competitive election. Whether it is running a bank, founding a hybrid and electric car company, or operating a major national party’s infrastructure and fundraising needs, McAuliffe has a lot of tools at his disposal to maintain his lead in the polls.