One of the knocks against Terry McAuliffe as a potential Democratic nominee for Governor in Virginia has been that he would be unelectable in the general election. And on the surface our polling from the last four months would seem to corroborate that, with more than a third of the Democratic primary electorate saying it has a negative opinion of McAuliffe, more than Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran combined.
But when we asked folks on our most recent poll if they would vote for Deeds/McAuliffe/Moran in the general election if each of them was the Democratic nominee the differences weren't all that great. 19% of primary voters said they would not support McAuliffe in November, compared to 17% for Moran, and 12% for Deeds. That's all within the margin of error.
Party unity should not be a big problem for Democrats regardless of who ends up winning on Tuesday. The proportion of primary voters saying they won't vote for a potential nominee are always a lot higher during the middle of a heated primary than they end up being in November, and the number of Dems saying they'll refuse to support any of the contenders in the general is pretty low to begin with.
One thing that is interesting in the numbers and bodes well for Deeds if he ends up with the nomination is that he does better than the other two with the independents planning to vote in the Democratic primary on this measure. 29% say they won't vote for McAuliffe in the fall and 21% say the same of Moran but just 5% express that sentiment when it comes to Deeds.
Taken all together though, November electability doesn't appear to be something savvy Virginia Democrats necessarily need to use as part of their criteria in deciding who to vote for on Tuesday.
Full results here.