|Terry McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds during a 2009 Democratic Primary debate for Governor. Photo courtesy of A.P.|
Quinnipiac University is out with their fifth survey of the 2009 Virginia Governor's race, this time showing Democrat Terry McAuliffe with his highest survey margin yet over Republican Ken Cuccinelli.
If the election for Governor were being held today, and the candidates were Terry McAuliffe the Democrat and Ken Cuccinelli the Republican, for whom would you vote?The results may surprise some, considering the barage of negative press McAuliffe has received since Quinnipiac's last poll in March. But either Virginia voters are tuning out stories about McAuliffe's preference for Washington fundraisers over the birth of his children, or they just don't care. Because the Democrat has seen a 5 point gain in his support since March, while the Cooch has dropped 2 points.
Terry McAuliffe (D) -- 43%
Ken Cuccinelli (R) -- 38%
Unsure/Other -- 20%
So what gave McAuliffe his largest lead of the Virginia Quinnipiac survey yet, especially in light of the perceived negative press?
An initial glance at the crosstabs do little to explain the mystery, as both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli are winning similar portions of their own base, and Independents. In fact, Cuccinelli is actually doing slightly better than McAuliffe with his base, the opposing party, and Independents.
But a look at the demographic and partisan make-up of Quinnipiac poll respondents sheds light on McAuliffe's rise. Simply, the current electorate is decidedly 2012-esque.
The chart below documents every Quinnipiac Virginia Governor survey taken this season, including the partisan identification of the respondents of each poll.
As you can see, the most recent survey found Democrats with a 10 point partisan identification advantage over Republicans. That advantage is strong enough to give McAuliffe a 5 point lead over his challenger, despite both candidates performing equally well among their own party's base and Independents.
Not only does this month's Quinnpiac poll feature the largest party I.D. advantage for Democrats to date, but if it holds through November, it would represent a net 14 point shift from the last Virginia Governor's race in 2009.
That year, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell defeated his Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds in a near 20-point landslide, and Republicans turned out in much larger numbers than Quinnipiac now finds. In fact, that year, it was the Republicans that held a 4 point partisan I.D. advantage over the Democrats (37% R, 33% D, 30% I).
What would the new Quinnipiac poll look like had their findings detected an electorate as Republican as 2009, all other findings remaining the same?
Not surprisingly, a 14 point shift in party I.D. (from D +10 to R +4), produces a net 10 point shift in Ken Cuccinelli's favor (from a 43-38% deficit, to a 45-40% lead).