September 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Poll shows McAuliffe maintains slight lead over Cuccinelli
Terry McAuliffe, Christopher Schaffer, Levar Stoney, Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Terry McAuliffe (center) at an Equality Virginia fundraiser in Arlington, Va. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A new poll shows former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe continues to maintain a slight lead over Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the commonwealth’s gubernatorial race.

The survey of 1,005 likely Virginia voters that Quinnipiac University conducted between Sept. 9-15 found McAuliffe ahead of Cuccinelli by a 44-41 percent margin. Seven percent of respondents said they support Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis.

The Quinnipiac University survey comes on the heels of a Rasmussen Reports survey that found McAuliffe ahead of Cuccinelli by a 45-38 percent margin.

A poll that Public Policy Polling conducted on behalf of the League of Conservation Voters between Aug. 27-28 found McAuliffe ahead of Cuccinelli by a 44-37 percent margin. Nine percent of respondents said they support Sarvis.

“We never put much stock in a single poll, but with more than half of Virginians finding Cuccinelli and his extreme social agenda unfavorable everyone should expect to see the Cuccinelli campaign become more and more desperate in the final weeks of the campaign,” McAuliffe campaign spokesperson Josh Schwerin told the Washington Blade.

Cuccinelli campaign spokesperson Anna Nix noted the race remains close.

“As voters learn more about Ken Cuccinelli’s record of fighting for Virginia and Terry McAuliffe’s record of putting himself first at the expense of workers, they are going side with the attorney general,” she told the Blade. “With each passing day, the energy and enthusiasm on the ground in support of Cuccinelli grows and with less than 50 days, our campaign is working to deliver victory on Nov. 5.”

Quinnipiac University released its survey two days after Cuccinelli and McAuliffe filed their latest campaign finance reports.

Cuccinelli reported he raised $5,687,527.04 between July 1 and Aug. 31 and spent $6,106,440.89 over the same period. His campaign finance report also indicates the Republican Governors Association made $3,740,132.44 in in-kind contributions to his campaign during the same period.

McAuliffe reported his campaign raised $7,355,246.09 between July 1 and Aug. 31, and spent $8,357,719.66 during the same period. His campaign finance report notes the DNC’s Political Party Committee made $15,618.84 in in-kind contributions to his effort to defeat Cuccinelli between July 1 and Aug. 31.

McAuliffe’s campaign finance report also indicates Planned Parenthood Virginia, the NextGen Climate Action Committee, the Service Employees International Union and the Sierra Club are among the groups that have also contributed to his campaign.

Gay advocates continue to criticize Cuccinelli

Virginia Democrats and LGBT rights advocates have repeatedly criticized Cuccinelli; Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate E.W. Jackson and state Sen. Mark Obenshein (R-Harrisonburg,) who is running for attorney general, over their opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples and other gay-specific issues.

Chief Justice John Roberts last month denied Cuccinelli’s request to place a stay on a three-judge panel’s March ruling that struck down Virginia’s anti-sodomy statute while the U.S. Supreme Court considers his appeal of it. Cuccinelli said during a debate against McAuliffe in July that Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour moderated that his “personal beliefs about the personal challenge of homosexuality haven’t changed.”

Cuccinelli last October also spoke at an anti-gay marriage rally at a Manassas church to which the Blade was denied access.

“When I knock on doors in Northern Virginia, it is clear to me that voters are starting to pay attention,” state Del. Rob Krupicka (D-Alexandria) told the Blade on Wednesday. “I regularly hear about women’s rights and equality from voters concerned about how our state is perceived in the rest of the country.”

State Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax,) who in January introduced a bill that would have repealed Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, echoed Krupicka.

“Ken Cuccinelli has worn his crusades against women, the LGBT community, immigrants, the environment, and the federal government on his sleeve for the last decade and especially for the last four years,” Surovell told the Blade in response to the latest Quinnipiac University poll. “His ticketmates have stood by recent comments that gays are ‘ikky,’ ‘wrong and unacceptable,’ and ‘very sick people.’ It is obvious to anyone in Virginia that this is the most ideologically extreme ticket we have ever seen in Virginia and it is showing in the polls.”

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) agreed.

“The general electorate is just starting to tune in, as is typical after Labor Day,” he said. “While lots of people know that Ken Cuccinelli is against equality, we have to make sure everyone knows.”

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Sept. 25 will moderate a Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored debate between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli in McLean.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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