Here’s why governor’s race polls vary from one to the next

Posted at 7:32 PM, Oct 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-30 19:32:07-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- In the last week a Washington Post Poll has listed Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a 12 point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the race for governor.

Roanoke University Wednesday put McAuliffe's lead at 15 points.

Meanwhile, Quinnipiac reported a tightening race, with McAuliffe holding just a four point advantage.

"All of the pollsters are trying to figure out who are the likely voters," Dr. Bob Holsworth, a political analyst with CBS 6, said in trying to explain why McAuliffe's lead varies so much from one poll to the next.

"They have very very different views on the 40 or 45 percent of Virginians who will actually come out and vote on Tuesday," Holsworth added.

According to Holsworth, the polls in which McAuliffe leads have factored in a high percentage of Democratic turnout.

The polls that are closer show an electorate more easily split. One thing is clear from a variety of polls - Libertarian Robert Sarvis is impacting the race.

Quinnipiac gives Sarvis nine percentage point, indicating that he is taking away more votes from Cuccinelli than he is from McAuliffe.

When CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George asked Cuccinelli last week if he thought a vote for Sarvis was a vote for McAuliffe, Cuccinelli did not seem concerned.

"It depends on the person," Cuccinelli said.