New poll gives McAuliffe big lead in Virginia

BY Terence Burlij  October 29, 2013 at 9:10 AM EDT

Virginia Tech students attend a Monday event in Blacksburg, Va. for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

With one week to go until Election Day in Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has expanded his lead over Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, turning what was expected to be the most competitive race of the 2013 off-year election cycle into a potential rout. The Morning Line

The latest Washington Post/Abt SRBI poll released Monday found McAuliffe with a 12-point advantage over Cuccinelli, 51 percent to 39 percent, up from eight points last month. Libertarian nominee Robert Sarvis received 8 percent in the survey.

McAuliffe’s edge is due in large part to a significant gender gap in the poll, with women favoring the Democrat over Cuccinelli by a 24-point margin, 58 percent to 34 percent. Among men, Cuccinelli and McAuliffe are essentially tied.

In the final stretch McAuliffe has been joined on the trail by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and he is currently in the midst of a four-day, nine-stop swing through the Commonwealth with former President Bill Clinton.

The McAuliffe campaign announced late Monday that President Barack Obama would stump for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate this Sunday in Northern Virginia.

“There’s an old saying in politics that victory has a thousand fathers,” University of Mary Washington political science professor Stephen Farnsworth recently told the NewsHour. “And a lot of people are starting to claim that they’re parents of Terry McAuliffe, that they want credit for his victory.”

Still, there are signs that McAuliffe’s support is based on concerns from some voters about Cuccinelli more than excitement about the candidacy of the former Democratic National Committee chairman.

According to the Post survey, among respondents who said they were backing McAuliffe, 34 percent said they were casting their ballot for the Democrat, while 64 percent said it was a vote against Cuccinelli. Half of Cuccinelli supporters said their decision was for the Republican candidate, compared with 44 percent who said it was a vote against McAuliffe.

Cuccinelli has called in some high-profile conservative reinforcements for the closing week of the campaign, making a series of stops Monday with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and a scheduled appearance Tuesday afternoon with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

“If you like D.C. politics and Detroit financing, you’ll love Terry McAuliffe as governor,” Cuccinelli told a crowd of supporters in Fairfax on Monday.

The Cuccinelli campaign also released a new television spot Tuesday that has two simple messages on repeat: McAuliffe would “expand Obamacare and increase taxes.”

Watch the ad here or below:

And a GOP super PAC was on the air for Game 5 of the World Series Monday night in several media markets with a similar, though more explicit, push. The spot will keep running this week.

“You can can stop the Obamacare fiasco, and send a message to Washington,” a narrator declares. “Make Virginia a referendum on Obamacare.”

Watch the spot, which aired on all of the state’s Fox affiliates here or below:

The move by Cuccinelli and his backers to hammer McAuliffe on health care comes as the federal rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been dogged by a series of problems. Despite those difficulties, the Post poll found that McAuliffe still holds a 53 percent to 34 percent advantage over Cuccinelli when it comes to which candidate would better handle the issue of health care.

New fundraising reports showed a wide gap, as well.

From Oct. 1 through Oct. 23, McAuliffe raised $8.1?million, and Cuccinelli raised just $2.9?million during the same period. McAuliffe’s haul through the entire cycle has shattered records set during the 2009 contest that elected Republican Bob McDonnell.

The Washington Post’s Reid Wilson put together these five charts showing where McAuliffe’s money is going, and how many pro-Democratic ads are on the Old Dominion’s airwaves boosting his candidacy.

The NewsHour will have more on this race and its national implications later in the week.

LINE ITEMS

  • NBC News cited “four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act” in a report that “millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare.” As many as 80 percent of people who buy their own insurance can expect the letters, one expert predicted to NBC. What’s more, the sources told the network that the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.

  • Politico’s Morning Score notes that the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee will go after vulnerable Democratic incumbents on the issue, using the NBC report as a hook.

  • The administration formalized its six-week extension of the period for Americans to sign up for health insurance coverage to avoid new tax penalties. People now have until March 31 to enroll.

  • Medicare’s Marilyn Tavenner will become the first administration official to testify about the problems with the insurance exchange website rollout Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

  • Mr. Obama will join congressional leaders at the Capitol Tuesday for a memorial service in honor of the late former Speaker Tom Foley, who died earlier this month.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D- Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for more congressional oversight over the National Security Agency’s surveillance program in light of reports that the U.S. has been spying on foreign allies. NSA Director General Keith Alexander will testify before the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday. Gwen Ifill spoke with former CIA official John McLaughlin and Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations Monday night about the issue, which led the NewsHour. Watch that here.

  • The Washington Post’s Jim Tankersley ventures deep into tea party country with a piece datelined in Rome, Ga., and finds economic peril is sometimes at the heart of places where people are most fiercely fighting the government.

  • A U.S. District Court judge ruled that some Texas regulations passed this year that would make it harder for women to have abortions are unconstitutional. The state has appealed the decision.

  • Lawmakers will vote Tuesday on a measure related to the president’s authority to suspend the debt limit, a piece of legislation born out of the compromise to end the 16-day partial government shutdown.

  • And The Hill’s Mario Trujillo reports that Senate Democrats will release a proposal that would allow the president to lift the ceiling on the nation’s borrowing ability without congressional approval.

  • Americans for Prosperity will run health care focused ads against North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu.

  • Politico’s Reid Epstein writes that Vice President Joe Biden is “no longer involved in the long-term planning” in the gun control push.

  • Clay Pell, grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell and husband of Michelle Kwan, may run for governor in Rhode Island.

  • Former Rep. Ike Skelton, a longtime Missouri Democrat, died Monday at the age of 81.

  • Roll Call’s Anna Giaratelli examines the complicated protocols of when flags fly at half-staff.

  • Ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. reported to prison in North Carolina Monday. The Chicago Tribune notes it was a day of confusion, with a paperwork snafu that had authorities unsure of where the disgraced former lawmaker actually was.

  • Because, why not?

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Katelyn Polantz and Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

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