RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - U.S. Senator Mark Warner has a commanding lead in the race to be the Commonwealth's ; next governor, even though he has yet to declare his candidacy. According to a new poll released by Quinnipiac University, if the 2013 election were held tomorrow, Warner would best both G.O.P. candidates.
Among likely Virginia voters, Warner tops Lt. Governor Bill Bolling 53 to 33 percent, and would beat Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli 52 to 34 percent.
“If Sen. Mark Warner decides to run, he begins the campaign as the prohibitive favorite,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. ;“He is much better known and much better liked than either of the Republican aspirants and his job approval rating – 60 percent – is the highest of any statewide elected official."
Warner previously served as Governor from 2002 to 2006, before being elected to the U.S. Senate.
If Warner decided to keep his current job, however, the only other declared democratic candidate is former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe, who does not fare quite as well.
“Terry McAuliffe is another story, however. He is not well known and his rating among those who have an opinion of him it is not all that impressive," Brown said. "Bolling also is not well known, although he is slightly better liked at this point than is McAuliffe. ;Cuccinelli is somewhat better known than Bolling and McAuliffe.
"At this point McAuliffe is benefitting from his Democratic identification, which reflects the party’s positive image in the state after President Barack Obama’s victory and the president’s 52 percent job approval.”
McAulliffe launched an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid back in 2009, losing the the democratic primary to State Senator Creigh Deeds.
Warner has said he will announce a decision over whether or not he will run by Thanksgiving. According to the poll however, Virginia voters would prefer he keep his current job.
Virginia voters say 35 – 18 percent that they would prefer Warner stay in the U.S. Senate, rather than run for governor. ; Another 30 percent, mostly Republicans, want him to do neither,” Brown added.
When asked about the recent presidential election, Virginia voters say they remain optimistic about the next four years with Barack Obama as president at 58 to 39 percent. By the end of the president's second term, voters expect the economy to be better than it is now, 51 to 31 percent.
The poll of 1,4689 registered Virginia voters was conducted by Quinnipiac University from November 8 to 12. There is a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.