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Libertarian Candidate Gains Ground in Va. Governor's Race

October 8, 2013

Election Day is four weeks from Tuesday, and new poll numbers show voters are gaining more confidence in whom they want as Virginia governor while a third-party candidate is gaining ground.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe continues to jump ahead in the governor's race against Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

"I would say at this point Cuccinelli should be generally concerned about his chances in November," said Geoff Skelley of the UVa. Center for Politics.

Data show McAuliffe is attracting women, independents and even some Republicans.

"This is a very unusual case in which both of the major-party candidates have less than 50 percent of a positive rating by voters in polling," said Rick Sincere, a blogger for Virginia Politics on Demand.

That's part of the reason why some analysts say Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis is showing some impressive poll numbers.

A poll from Christopher Newport University released this week shows McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli 47 percent to 38 percent among likely voters. But Sarvis was favored by 8 percent of likely voters.

In a Politico poll also released this week, McAuliffe draws 44 percent of the vote to Cuccinelli's 35 percent, but Sarvis received 12 percent.

"If anything, it just shows he's getting consistent support and it's not going away from him as we get closer to Election Day, which is typically what happens to a lot of third-party candidates," Skelley said.

His numbers may continue to grow, and so long as they're consistent, Sarvis could make a strong case to be included in gubernatorial debates this month.

"I think there's a definite ceiling on his support. He's not going to win the election. But he might have a fairly impressive performance for a third-party candidate in Virginia," Skelley said.

Still, more and more people are gravitating toward Sarvis.

"People want to make a statement," Sincere said. "They want to show that they are independent thinking and that they'll vote for the person who most likely agrees with them instead of the lesser of two evils."

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