Sen. Mark Warner holds a wide lead over Gov. Robert McDonnell in a hypothetical 2014 Senate matchup, while the Virginia gubernatorial race remains a dead heat, a new poll shows.
A survey from the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies gives Warner (D) a 16-point lead — 51 percent to 35 percent — over McDonnell (R) among Virginia adults. (Unlike many polls, the survey did not narrow its sample to include only registered or likely voters.) Warner has an advantage in every region of the state over McDonnell, who is term-limited out of the governorship but has given no indication he plans to run for Senate,
Warner had previously flirted with the idea of running this year to regain his old post as governor, but he decided against that move and told the Staunton News-Leader last week that he would seek six more years in the Senate.
McDonnell may trail Warner but still gets strong marks in his current post, as 52 percent of respondents approve of the job he’s doing as governor compared to 26 percent who disapprove.
If McDonnell chooses to run for president in 2016, he would not be guaranteed to win Virginia in a Republican primary, the poll finds. In a hypothetical six-way GOP matchup, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gets 18 percent while McDonnell gets 12 percent and Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) get 11 percent apiece. Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) takes 9 percent while former governor Jeb Bush (Fla.) gets 8 percent.
On the Democratic side of the 2016 ledger, Warner takes 18 percent in a five-way primary matchup, well behind Hillary Clinton’s 38 percent. Vice President Biden takes 10 percent while Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo bring up the rear with 3 percent apiece. (The presidential questions were also asked of all adults; Virginians do not register by party so primaries are open.)
In the gubernatorial race, businessman Terry McAuliffe (D) gets 38 percent support while Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II gets 37 percent, a very similar result to other recent polls of this year’s marquee matchup. Notably, the Mary Washington survey found almost no gender gap between the candidates — they were statistically tied among both men and women.