The race between Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and businessman Terry McAuliffe is neck-at-neck, according to a new poll released Wednesday.
The NBC News/Marist poll shows McAuliffe (D) getting 43 percent support from registered voters, slightly ahead of Cuccinelli’s 41 percent (R).
But McAuliffe, who will make a campaign stop in Arlington Thursday, trailed Cuccinelli among likely voters 42 percent to 45 percent.
The NBC/Marist poll follows a Washington Post poll, published Saturday, that showed Cuccinelli with a slender 46 to 41 percent edge over McAuliffe among all Virginia voters and a significant 51 to 41 percent lead among those who say they’re certain to cast ballots in November.
Together, the polls show an early fluid race, with relatively few likely voters strongly tied to either candidate. The NBC/Marist poll showed only about half of those polled strongly support either candidate.
The more recent poll demonstrates a large gender gap. McAuliffe had the favor of 50 percent of women, while Cuccinelli only had 34 percent. But 49 percent of men supported Cuccinelli, while 34 percent backed McAuliffe.
Both candidates also polled well with their respective parties – 91 percent each – but were tied at 36 percent for independent voters.
Cuccinelli had a serious edge with polltakers that said there was an “excellent” chance they would head out to vote on Nov. 5., leading McAuliffe 50 percent to 38 percent.
“The contest is close, the candidates are not well defined, and they still need to connect with voters,” Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said in a release. “But, keep an eye on those who say they are going to vote.”
Only 50 percent of the registered voters with a preferred candidate said they “strongly” supported them. Another 33 percent “somewhat” supported their choice.
A majority of polltakers were favorable towards Gov. Bob McDonnell’s job performance, with 61 percent of registered voters supporting what he’s done during his time in office. That’s up from 51 percent in Marist’s March 2012 poll.
But 58 percent of voters say they don’t want McDonnell to seek the presidential nomination in 2016.
Cuccinelli is expected to be formally nominated at the Virginia Republican Convention in Richmond the weekend of May 17 and 18.