Republicans are likely breathing easier knowing an October trial will not refocus attention on the McDonnell gifts scandal leading up to Election Day. Poll numbers now show more Virginians are paying more attention to the race for governor. But neither candidate is pulling away, with both locked in a statistical tie.
A survey of more than 1,000 likely voters shows Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe virtually neck-and-neck. Seven percent of respondents said they favored Libertarian Robert Sarvis, but experts expect that number to drop off moving toward Election Day.
Wednesday's Quinnipiac University poll puts McAuliffe up 44 to 41 percent over Cuccinelli, within the poll's 3.1 percent margin of error. Republicans embraced the results, saying their candidate is gaining momentum.
"This is anybody's race. Our voters are more enthused to get out and vote than Terry's are, and that's a huge advantage," said Garren Shipley, communications director for the Republican Party of Virginia.
Democrats meanwhile say the poll is just white noise.
"It's interesting that a poll in which more than half of Virginians view their candidate as negatively it's a sign of momentum for them," said Brian Coy, communications director for the Democratic Party of Virginia.
Fifty-one percent of respondents say they hold an unfavorable view of Cuccinelli, compared to a 34 percent favorability rating.
McAuliffe is split, with 38 percent of voters listing him as both favorable and unfavorable. But Republicans aren't focused on those numbers. Instead they say Cuccinelli has recovered some ground in the polls, closing August's six-point gap to three.
"That trend is moving in the right direction for us, and we're really excited about that," Shipley said.
But as the clock counts down, both sides know early polls won't decide this race, and they're focused on turnout.
"We're going to be doing what we've been doing all year, which is talking about the key contrast in this race," Coy said.
"Our folks are broken-glass voters this year. They will crawl over broken glass to get to the polls, they are enthusiastic and they're going to show up," Shipley said.
The polls also shed some light on where the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general stand and the truth is: no one is really paying attention to them yet. A vast majority of voters - between 72 and 88 percent - say they haven't heard enough about the candidates to form an opinion.