Terry McAuliffe

chesapeakeclimateTerry McAuliffe gets climate change. So do most Virginians.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe is ahead in the gubernatorial polls in Virginia, despite accusations from his climate-denying Republican opponent that he’s waging a “war on coal” in a coal-powered state. His lead might be partly attributable to the fact that Virginians actually are concerned about global warming.

With a week remaining before the election, Old Dominion University polling [PDF] is showing that 44.1 percent of likely voters intend to support McAuliffe in the race for governor. Republican Ken Cuccinelli is favored by 36.9 percent of poll respondents, while 6.9 percent said they plan to vote for Libertarian Rob Sarvis.

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Notably, the pollsters found that Virginia voters strongly shared their favored candidate’s views on climate change — which is bad news for the Republican:

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62.7 percent of likely voters indicated that they believed “human activity is a major contributing factor in climate change,” while 34.5 percent indicated that they did not believe this to be the case.

66.4 percent of Cucinelli supporters indicated that they do not believe human activity is a major contributing factor in climate change, while 88.5 percent of McAuliffe and 68.1 percent of Sarvis supporters indicated that human activity is a major contributor to climate change.

Climate Progress puts the poll results into some context:

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Ken Cuccinelli

Gage SkidmoreKen Cuccinelli does not get climate change.

Cuccinelli has made his opposition to climate science a key selling point of his candidacy. In Thursday’s final debate, he boasted of his unsuccessful lawsuit to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases and accused McAuliffe of waging a “war on coal.”

In the debate, McAuliffe criticized Cuccinelli’s also-unsuccessful attempt to wage a witch hunt against a University of Virginia climate scientist that cost the university $570,000. Cuccinelli “intimidated scientists at our great universities,” McAuliffe observed, warning that this would scare off businesses from investing in Virginia.

Also check out: The Virginia governor’s race, the craziest political race of the year, is putting climate in the spotlight