The possible inclusion of Virginia's lieutenant governor, Bill Bolling, in the 2013 Virginia governor's race does little to alter the contest, according to a poll released on Wednesday by Quinnipiac University's polling institute.
The poll suggests that the race, in its early stages, would still be a close one between former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Republican State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
McAuliffe received 40 to 39 percent for Cuccinelli among registered Virginia voters surveyed Jan. 4-7. When Bolling, who is mulling the option to run as an independent candidate, was added to the mix, McAuliffe and Cuccinelli each received 34 percent and Bolling received 13 percent.
The poll also shows that the candidates remain unfamiliar to state voters and that the race, 10 months out, remains very much in flux.
"With this relatively low level of voter recognition, it will be some time before the shape of the race becomes clear," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the institute, said in his analysis. "What is clear is that as an independent, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling faces a pretty stiff uphill climb should he decide to run."
Bolling, an elected Republican, dropped out of the governor's race in late November, citing a desire to maintain cohesion in the Republican primary. But Bolling quickly began exploring an independent candidacy.
"Right now we’re keeping the door open on that possibility," Bolling reportedly said during a radio interview last week. "We’re doing the due diligence on it, and it’s probably something that I’ll have more to say about around the first part of March."
The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.