RC Poll: Cuccinelli holds narrow lead over McAuliffe; Majority supports non-military spending cuts

Republican Ken Cuccinelli leads Democrat Terry McAuliffe (34%-29%), but more than one-third (38%) of Virginians are undecided in the 2013 Gubernatorial election, according to The Roanoke College Poll. Looking only at currently registered voters, Cuccinelli's lead grows slightly (35%-27%).

The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 629 Virginia residents between April 8 and April 14 and has a margin of error of +3.9 percent. 

The Virginia Race for Governor - 2013

Candidate preferences are virtually unchanged since the January Roanoke College Poll, and the number of undecided voters has decreased by only 3 percent (within the margin of error).

As was the case in January, both candidates are largely unfamiliar to Virginians. A majority of Virginia residents do not know enough about McAuliffe (61%) to have an opinion about him, and 45 percent don't have an opinion of Cuccinelli. Each figure is only one percent lower than in January. Cuccinelli has improved his favorable/unfavorable split marginally (26% - 24%), while McAuliffe remains the same (10% - 16%). 

A majority of respondents (52%) don't know enough about Cuccinelli to gauge his ideology, while 23 percent think he is too conservative for Virginia and 22 percent think he is about right. Two-thirds (67%) are not familiar with McAuliffe's ideology, while 16 percent see him as too liberal and 14 percent think his ideology is about right.

Taxes, the Budget and Sequestration

A slight majority (51%) of Virginians perceive the federal tax rate they pay as about right, but 41 percent think it is too high. A majority (53%) think the lowest rate of 10 percent is appropriate for low income earners, but 31 percent think that rate is too high. A plurality of respondents (39%) think the 39.6 percent rate for the highest income earners is about right, but 31 percent said the rate is too high, while 21 percent think it is too low.

Most Virginians (72%) perceive the national debt as an immediate problem, and another 18 percent think it will be a problem in the future. A plurality (48%) think the sequester is bad for the country, but a majority (57%) support a five percent across-the-board cut in federal spending. At the same time, a majority (63%) oppose an eight percent cut in military spending. Each of those questions approximates the cuts contained in the sequester. Finally, more respondents trust President Obama (40%) to deal with the economy, than the Republicans in Congress (29%).

Conservatives and Republicans are more likely to believe the debt is an immediate problem and that tax rates for high income earners are too high Also, they support overall budget cuts but oppose military cuts. They are only slightly more likely than Liberals and Democrats to think their tax rate is too high and less likely to think that tax rates for lower income people are too high. 

Elected officials' approval ratings and favorable/unfavorable views

President Obama's favorable rating is 48 percent (43% unfavorable), almost the same as January. Gov. McDonnell sits at a 44 percent favorable rating, down four percent since the last Roanoke College Poll. Sen. Mark Warner's favorable rating tops the list at 49 percent, while Sen. Tim Kaine holds a 44 percent approval rating (both unchanged).

President Obama's job approval rating is 44 percent, and 46 percent disapprove of the job he is doing (both unchanged from January).  Gov. McDonnell's approval rating is 49 percent (down 5%), while Congressional approval is 12 percent (up 2%).
Views of Virginia and the U.S.

A majority of likely Virginia voters (63%) think the United States is on the wrong track while 27 percent think the country is headed in the right direction.  Perceptions of the Commonwealth remain more optimistic than the country (37% think Virginia is headed in the wrong direction; 46% think it is on the right track). Both sets of numbers are marginally more pessimistic than they were in January.


"The political landscape looks the same in April as it did in January," said Dr. Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. "Neither candidate is well-known among Virginians, particularly McAuliffe, and neither is viewed very positively. There is still a lot of 'defining' to do in this campaign."

"It's not surprising that most Virginians see the debt as an immediate problem and support budget cuts, except for the military. It is perhaps surprising that even a small majority see their own taxation rate as 'about right.' And a relatively small percentage think that tax rates for those with high incomes are too low."


Interviewing for The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. between April 8 and April 14, 2013. A total of 629 Virginia residents were interviewed.  The sample of land lines and cell phones was prepared by Survey Sampling Inc. of Fairfield, Conn. and was created so that all cell phone and residential telephone numbers, including unlisted numbers, had a known chance of inclusion.  Cell phones constituted 23 percent of the completed interviews.

Questions answered by the entire sample of 629 residents are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus approximately 3.9 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.  This means that in 95 out of 100 samples, like the one used here, the results obtained should be no more than 3.9 percentage points above or below the figure that would be obtained by interviewing all Virginia residents who have a home telephone or a cell phone.  Where the results of subgroups are reported, the sampling error is higher. 

Quotas were used to ensure that different regions of the Commonwealth were proportionately represented.  The data were statistically weighted for gender, race and age.

A copy of the questionnaire and all frequencies may be found on the Roanoke College web site.


Released: April 17, 2013
Contact Name: Dr. Harry Wilson
Contact Phone: (540) 375-2415 (office), (540) 992-1333 (home), (540) 293-4206 (cell)
Contact Email: wilson@roanoke.edu


About the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research

IPOR conducts monthly surveys in Virginia that benefit the community, state and nation. Regular topics include Virginians' consumer confidence and political candidate polling. 

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