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With just under two months until Virginians head to the polls to elect a new governor, it's a statistical dead heat between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli.
According to a new poll from Quinnipiac University, McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli 44 to 41 percent among likely voters, within the poll's three-percent margin of error. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, for his part, draws seven percent, while six percent of respondents remain undecided.
McAuliffe is seen more favorably than Cuccinelli, though, with a 38-38 percent split to Cuccinelli's 34-51 favorable/unfavorable rating. Cuccinelli leads among white voters (48 percent) and men (47 percent), while McAuliffe claims more support among black voters (77 percent) and women (49 percent).
Sarvis' role may be decisive come November, but analysts aren't yet sure who he helps—or hurts—more.
"Right now, we can't tell whether Sarvis' candidacy is hurting Cuccinelli more than McAuliffe," says Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The Libertarian candidate is getting 3 percent of the Republican vote and 2 percent of the Democratic vote, but 14 percent of independent voters."
The poll finds that respondents think McAuliffe is more trustworthy than Cuccinelli, while they find Cuccinelli to have more experience to by the commonwealth's top elected official. Still, respondents say McAuliffe understands their problems better than Cuccinelli.