RICHMOND — Virginians favor Sen. Mark Warner (D) in his reelection bid this year and former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton for president in 2016 despite voters’ dim view of President Obama and his health-care law, a new poll finds.
Warner (D) beats Republican Ed Gillespie 46 to 31 percent in a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
But Warner has seen his job-approval numbers slip. Consistently ranked in recent years as Virginia’s most popular elected official, with approval ratings sometimes topping 60 percent, Warner gets a thumbs-up from 55 percent of voters in the poll.
Just under half of voters, 49 percent, say he deserves re-election, with 36 percent saying he does not.
The survey suggests that Gillespie is still largely unknown to Virginians, with 64 percent saying they do not know enough about the former Republican White House aide to form an opinion of him.
Clinton edges out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), 45 percent to 41 percent, in a hypothetical match-up for president. She more easily beats other potential GOP candidates, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush (47 percent to 39 percent), Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (48 percent to 42 percent) and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (49 percent to 41 percent).
“U.S. Sen. Mark Warner passes for the closest thing to a household name in Virginia politics,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “He has a strong job approval rating and is flirting with the magic 50 percent threshold that generally marks an incumbent as a heavy favorite for reelection.
“Ed Gillespie is no stranger to politics – but not in the Old Dominion. His extensive background in national politics will help him raise money, but he’s going to need a lot of it to introduce himself to Virginia voters.”
Virginians, who twice voted to send Obama to the White House, disapprove of the job he is doing 52 percent to 44 percent. They oppose the Affordable Care Act, the health-care law known informally as Obamacare, by an identical margin at a time when state budget negotiations are deadlocked over whether to expand Medicaid under the law.
“President Obama’s support in Virginia, which he narrowly carried in his reelection, remains stuck in negative territory, with his 58-36 percent disapproval among independent voters the big reason why,” Brown said. “Interestingly, Virginian voters say 33 to 15 percent they would be less likely rather than more likely to vote for Warner if President Barack Obama campaigns for him.”
Between March 19 and 24, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,288 voters via land lines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.