By Todd Richissin
In a race defined by back-and-forth attacks on trustworthiness and social issues, McAuliffe, has a 48-42 percent lead, according to the survey, the first in this race among Virginia residents likely to vote in the November election.
The poll showed honesty is the most important quality Virginia's likely voters are considering when they choose a candidate. Some 58 percent of voters say a candidate's "honesty and trustworthiness" are "extremely important" while 35 percent say "very important."
In that department, likely voters give McAuliffe the edge: The poll showed them divided 39-36 percent on whether McAuliffe is honest and trustworthy, and are divided 42-43 percent on Cuccinelli's honesty.
Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, under investigation for a gifts scandal, hasn't helped Cuccinelli.
"The campaign has been light on issues and big on personalities, and it is in the area of personal characteristics that McAuliffe has a small edge," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a news release. "It seems obvious that Gov. Bob McDonnell's political troubles are hurting fellow Republican Cuccinelli. Guilt by association may not be fair, but it sure is politically powerful."
From Aug. 14 - 19, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,129 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.