To win, said Kaine, a candidate must appeal to the 40 percent of the electorate that considers itself independent. The Quinnipiac poll found 27 percent of independents viewed Cuccinelli favorably, 25 percent unfavorably and 46 percent did not know him well enough to judge.
Bollings record is conservative, too, but his style is regarded as more pragmatic and conciliatory.
Bolling is clearly someone Cuccinelli would prefer not to have in the race, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll.
The challenge for Bolling, said Davis, is that an independent candidate needs one of the major parties to collapse. So far that doesnt seem likely. Both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli start with roughly 35 percent backing and eager supporters, as well as their parties fundraising and organizational machinery.
Thats hard for a nonaligned candidate to match, and the Republican Governors Association is firmly behind Cuccinelli.
Whats not in doubt is that the vast majority of Virginia Republicans are united behind Attorney General Cuccinelli, who has won statewide and has strong backing from state and national Republicans, said Republican Governors Association spokesman Mike Schrimpf.
Cuccinelli supporters figure hell soften the rough edges.
I know philosophically where he is, but thats not what drives him. He wants to be a good governor, and this race is going to be about the economy and jobs, said former state Republican chairman and Lt. Gov. John Hager, a Cuccinelli supporter.
That could be a plus, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a former governor. Theres usually much less ideology involved in a gubernatorial race, Alexander said. Voters want someone capable of leading and managing an organization, not somebody who can make speeches.
All thats logical, but that resume is not going to go away.
All someone like McAuliffe has to do to win, said Cullen, is make the other guy unacceptable.