Nearly two years out from the 2018 mid-term elections, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) enjoys a double-digit lead over potential Republican challengers, according to poll released Friday.
The Quinnipiac University survey found Kaine would win by about 20 points in a match-up with former GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina or conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, who have both said they are considering running for the seat.
Virginia Republicans say Rep. Barbara Comstock would be a formidable GOP opponent for Kaine, but she has not publicly indicated interest in the seat and was not included in the poll.
Among Virginia voters surveyed, 57 percent approved of the way Kaine is performing in the job, while 37 percent disapproved.
After losing the vice presidency in November, Kaine returned the Senate and has been leading Democratic opposition to any plan that would repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. He has also been a vocal critic of President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees and travelers from seven Muslim countries, and he has voted against several of Trump’s cabinet nominees.
A clear majority of Virginia voters surveyed disapproved of Trump’s travel ban by a margin of 55 to 42 percent. And 56 percent disapproved of Trump’s job performance as president, while 38 percent approved.
Although the general election is 20 months away, both parties say Kaine’s seat is unlikely to be targeted for extra funding and resources, especially with 10 Senate Democrats seeking re-election in states Trump won. Hillary Clinton won Virginia, the only Southern state to vote for her.
Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia Center for Politics said this week the Virginia Senate seat is likely to stay in Democratic hands.
In the year since Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard chief executive, dropped out of the GOP primary, she has endorsed and raised money for Republican candidates with a focus on Virginia.
Ingraham grew her following among hard-line Virginia conservatives when she backed Rep. Dave Brat over Majority Leader Eric Cantor in their 2014 primary. She founded the website LifeZette, which was given in the first question in one of the Trump administration’s first press briefings.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 989 Virginia voters from Feb. 10 to 15; the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The poll comes just a day after Quinnipiac released another survey that found either Democrat running this year for the party’s nomination for governor - Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former congressman Tom Perriello - would beat any of the four Republicans competing for their party’s nod.
“There is a certain similarity to how Virginia voters see Republican officials and potential GOP candidates these days,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “As was evident in the Quinnipiac University poll earlier this week that showed the Democratic candidates for governor were running better than their Republican counterparts, the same pattern holds true for President Donald Trump’s job approval and for an early look at Sen. Tim Kaine’s reelection prospects.”