Poll: McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli in Virginia governor race

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe leads Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) by 5 percentage points in their gubernatorial race, according to a poll conducted by Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling.

McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli by 46 percent to 41 percent. His lead is due mostly to Cuccinelli's unpopularity: The Tea Party favorite's approval rating is underwater, with 29 percent of voters approving of him and 45 percent in opposition. McAuliffe, who lost a 2009 primary for governor, isn't well known: About a quarter of voters approve of him, and the same percentage disapproves.

The two have no primary opponents and are all but guaranteed to face off in Virginia's 2013 general election. Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bolling (R), a centrist Republican who hasn't ruled out running as an independent, gets 15 percent when included in the poll, with McAuliffe's lead expanding to 8 points.

The automated poll of 602 registered voters was conducted Jan. 4-6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.