Sen. Warner Clear Favorite Over GOP's Gillespie in Virginia Race

Tuesday, 21 Jan 2014 02:15 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner is an overwhelming favorite over Republican Ed Gillespie in the potential race for the November election, a new survey reveals.

The Roanoke College Poll of 533 registered voters shows that Warner leads Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, by 50 percent to 21 percent in the key swing state.

But the poll also found that Warner's favorability rating has dropped to 47 percent, a 10 percent setback since September, with 43 percent saying they were not satisfied with his performance.

Gillespie had only a 6 percent favorable rating, with 13 percent unfavorable. But three out of every four Virginians felt that they didn't know enough about him to make an opinion.

Dr. Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research, said that the numbers for the possible match-up between Warner and Gillespie may be skewed because at this stage the Republican is still a virtual unknown to most Virginians.

"Given that 75 percent don't know enough about him to have an either favorable or unfavorable opinion of him, it is no surprise he trails Warner so decisively," said Wilson.

"There is plenty of time for that to change as the state gets to know him. In politics, 10 months is an eternity.

"Meanwhile, Warner, generally the most popular elected official in the Commonwealth, has seen his approval rating drop below 50 percent. That is low for him, but still a rating that most elected officials would envy."

Gillespie, a former adviser to the 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, announced last week he planned to challenge Warner while criticizing the senator for supporting Obamacare.

Noting that Warner was the deciding vote for the healthcare law, Gillespie said, "If I were a Virginia senator, it would not be law today."

The Roanoke College Poll on the election had a plus or minus 4.2 point margin of error.

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