While Democrats keep waiting to see whether former Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will jump into the race to succeed retiring Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), a new poll shows former senator George Allen in a strong position in the Republican primary.
Allen has announced his intention to run for his old seat. Tea party leader Jamie Radtke and Hampton Roads lawyer David McCormick are also in the GOP primary race, and a handful of other candidates — including state Del. Robert G. Marshall (Prince William) and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart — are considering runs as well.
A new survey of “usual Republican primary voters” from Public Policy Polling — a Democratic firm that uses autodial technology rather than live interviews — found Allen was well ahead of all those competitors in a hypothetical matchup. Against those four opponents, Allen got 67 percent, while Marshall earned 7 percent, Radtke 4 percent and Stewart and McCormick 3 percent apiece.
As a former senator and governor, Allen has a huge advantage in statewide name recognition over his potential Republican opponents. Roughly three-quarters of poll respondents didn’t know enough about Marshall or Radtke to have an opinion of them, though that will probably change as the primary campaign garners more media attention.
Allen, meanwhile, earned a rating of 68 percent favorable and 15 percent unfavorable among the Republican sample.
PPP has been testing “incumbent and establishment” Republicans against more conservative challengers in several states. The firm found Allen doing well compared to some others in his position.
“The threat of a Tea Party challenge to George Allen has been pretty overblown,” said Dean Debnam, president of PPP. “He’s a lot more immune to that than most establishment Republican politicians are.”
The survey also found Allen and Kaine tied among registered voters in a hypothetical general election matchup, with 47 percent apiece.