A new Roanoke College poll out Wednesday has Democrat Mark Warner comfortably ahead of Republican challenger Ed Gillespie and Libertarian Robert Sarvis.
Sen. Warner was at 47 percent in the poll, to 22 percent for Gillespie and 5 percent for Sarvis. The poll also had Democrats nominally ahead of Republicans statewide in the generic congressional ballot, 38 percent to 36 percent, and gave Hillary Clinton big leads over three possible Republican rivals in hypothetical 2016 presidential matchups.
The data also gave President Obama his lowest job approval rating in Virginia to date, at 40 percent. Sen. Tim Kaine had a 42 percent approval rating, while Warner had a solid 56 percent favorable rating. In contrast, Gillespie and Sarvis are largely unknown among voters.
“While it is still early, Gillespie needs to begin to introduce himself to Virginia voters. Winning the nomination did not lower the percentage who essentially do not know who he is,” said Dr. Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College. “Warner’s favorable rating makes him an extremely formidable opponent. Gillespie needs a lot of money and positive name recognition to even begin to compete. Surely, his numbers will improve, but he needs them to begin to move soon.”