GOP Candidate for Governor of Virginia Releases Fantasy Poll to Prove He's Doing OK

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 16 2013 4:51 PM

GOP Candidate for Governor of Virginia Releases Fantasy Poll to Prove He's Doing OK

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Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is leading 100 percent to zero in a survey of Virginia attorney generals.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

This morning, Public Policy Polling released a survey of the statewide races in Virginia that has Republicans losing all three of 'em. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli trails Democrat Terry McAuliffe by 4 points; the infamous E.W. Jackson is down 7 in the race for lieutenant governor. Only the race for attorney general is truly tight.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Cuccinelli's campaign has responded, with admirable lack of self-awareness, by pretending that PPP doesn't know what it's doing.

According to the latest RRR Poll, Ken Cuccinelli leads his opponent Terry McAuliffe by 13.3 points, up from 12 points from RRR’s inaugural Poll released May 30th... There is no margin of error, since RRR only produces error free surveys – and unlike PPP or DDD – we poll those actually voting (as we think that’s important).
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Ha ha! There is no RRR poll—the campaign is joking that PPP is obviously biased and flawed and that by listing the Libertarian candidate in its poll (he gets 7 percent) it's skewing the results.

"It's funny for them to talk about the RRR polls when the last actual R poll, Rasmussen, had McAuliffe up by 3," said Tom Jensen of PPP, not trying to conceal his bemusement. "It's not like we're off on a desert island with what we're finding. It's like they haven't learned their lesson from trying to unskew the polls in 2012. Our last poll in Virginia that year showed Obama winning by 4. He won by 4."

He did, and the idea that PPP is horribly off the mean in this race is based on nothing. Its last poll had McAuliffe up by 5. Quinnipiac currently has McAuliffe up by 5. An average of polls for this race would have McAuliffe demonstrably ahead, but for an outlier Washington Post poll, from two months ago, that gave the attorney general his largest lead (10 points) ever. Since then Cuccinelli has been saddled with an embarrassing running mate and Gov. Bob McDonnell's numbers have sunk in the wake of a donor scandal.

All that said, sure, it's strange to see a third-party candidate poll this high. "It's likely that the Libertarian won't get 7 percent," said Jensen. "What we found, though, was that he was drawing equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. You have a situation here where voters hate both of the candidates—when we didn't include the Libertarian in the poll, McAuliffe had a similar lead."

Correction, July 17, 2013: This post originally misspelled Gov. Bob McDonnell's last name.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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