New Va. poll: Warner has wide lead over Gillespie, McDonnell remains popular

January 23

Sen. Mark Warner holds a strong lead in his reelection race over Republican challenger Ed Gillespie, a new poll shows, as few Virginians know enough about Gillespie to have developed an opinion yet.

The Christopher Newport University survey of Virginia registered voters also shows that former governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) remains relatively popular in the state, though his numbers dropped in the poll as news came that he had been indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges.

The poll has Warner (D) leading Gillespie among registered voters, 50 to 30 percent, with 18 percent undecided. The poll gives Warner a 63 percent job approval rating.

Gillespie — the former lobbyist, Republican National Committee chair and White House aide — is largely an unknown quantity in the commonwealth. Just 10 percent of voters said they had a favorable opinion of him, 9 percent unfavorable and the remainder had no opinion or would not answer.

The other two Republicans in the race are even less known: financial planner Shak Hill, and former Pentagon official and lobbyist Howie Lind each get 2 percent favorable, 3 percent unfavorable scores in the poll. Republicans will choose a nominee at a June party convention in Roanoke.

McDonnell, meanwhile, has a job approval rating of 57 percent, according to the survey. In the first six days the poll was in the field, that score stood at 59 percent. In the last two days of surveying, following the news of McDonnell’s indictment, his rating dropped to 49 percent approval, 38 percent disapproval.

The CNU poll is the second Virginia survey released this week. A Roanoke College poll showed Warner leading Gillespie 50-21. It gave McDonnell a 45 percent job approval rating, with 24 percent disapproving and a higher percentage of voters who were unsure than the CNU poll.

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