Terry McAuliffe, left, has broken the stalement with Republican counterpart Ken Cuccinelli.
Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has opened a six-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in a new Quinnipiac University poll.
McAuliffe's lead exceeds the three point margin of error, giving him an advantage heading into the critical fall campaign season.
"For this race, it is sizable, and I think consistent that McAuliffe has been even or ahead," says Toni-Michelle-Travis, political science professor at George Mason University. "People are beginning to have doubts about Cuccinelli now that they know a little bit more about both candidates."
The poll finds that more voters find McAuliffe empathetic, but Cuccinelli leads in terms of experience. University of Virginia analyst Kyle Kondik says McAuliffe's lead is significant considering the sample.
"The electorate that they sampled is not the same as the 2012 electorate," Kondik says. "It's actually whiter and older and, in essence, it's more reflective of what the electorate is probably going to look like in 2013 as opposed to 2012."
When asked what issue was the most important quality voters wanted in a candidate, 58 percent responded they want a candidate who is honest and trustworthy.