Sen. Mark Warner begins his campaign for reelection with 63 percent job approval among Virginia voters, but reaches just 50 percent in a potential head-to-head matchup with former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, according to a poll released today by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.
With both identified by party, Republican Gillespie drew 30 percent of the voters in the matchup with Democrat Warner, though voters overall said they barely know Gillespie or the other two potential Republican challengers in the survey, Shak Hill and Howie Lind. Gillespie begins the race with a 10 percent approval rating; Hill and Lind each had a 2 percent approval rating.
â€œThe odds heavily favor Senator Warner, but he clearly has work to do to make the case to voters between now and November,â€ said Dr. Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Public Policy.
The survey also measured votersâ€™ approval of former Gov. Bob McDonnell, straddling news of his indictment on federal corruption charges and providing a glimpse of the chargesâ€™ impact on his standing. McDonnellâ€™s approval overall stood at 57 percent, but only 49 percent of voters surveyed after the indictment approved of how he handled the job as governor.
â€œThe indictment clearly reminded voters of the scandal that had overshadowed his last year in office,â€ said Kidd.
The Wason Center surveyed 1,023 registered Virginia voters, Jan. 15-22. The total margin of error is +/- 3.1% at the 95 % level of confidence. The survey and Kiddâ€™s analysis are attached. He is available for interviews.
A second round of the Wason Center survey will be released on Wednesday, Jan. 29, breaking down votersâ€™ views on government ethics reform, Medicaid expansion, redistricting reform and other issues before the current session of the Virginia General Assembly.