- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2013

Sen. Mark R. Warner holds a sizable lead over Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in a hypothetical two-man race for Mr. Warner’s Senate seat in 2014, according to a poll released Monday.

Mr. Warner, a first-term Democrat, holds a 51 percent to 35 percent advantage over Mr. McDonnell, a Republican who is barred by Virginia law from running for re-election this year. The poll for the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies was conducted on the center’s behalf by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

Consistent with other recent polls, the survey showed Mr. McDonnell remains popular in Virginia, with a 52 percent job approval rating compared to 26 percent who disapprove.

“The good news for the governor is that state residents continue to think very highly of him,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at Mary Washington and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “The bad news is that McDonnell is term-limited and the next statewide election — the 2014 U.S. Senate contest — doesn’t seem all that appealing.”

Mr. Warner, who last week confirmed that he planned to seek re-election, held double-digit advantages over Mr. McDonnell in every region of the state. Mr. McDonnell has not indicated any interest in pursuing the seat but would likely be considered the best hope for Republicans if they did mount a challenge.

The survey of 1,004 state residents was conducted March 20-24 and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.The poll also showed that the governor’s race between Republican Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II and Democrat Terry McAuliffe remains a dead heat, with Mr. McAuliffe holding a 38 percent to 37 percent edge over Mr. Cuccinelli — within the poll’s margin of error.

Mr. McAuliffe is ahead in Northern Virginia, where he collected 45 percent of the vote. But Mr. Cuccinelli, a former state senator from Fairfax County, received 41 percent support in the heavily Democratic region.

Despite Democratic efforts to paint Republicans in general — and Mr. Cuccinelli in particular — as unsupportive of women, women support Mr. McAuliffe by a narrow margin of 41 percent to 39 percent. Men favor Mr. Cuccinelli by a margin of 43 percent to 42 percent margin.And while each candidate draws heavily from their base, they essentially split independent voters, with 36 percent backing Mr. Cuccinelli and 35 percent supporting Mr. McAuliffe.