By Jeb Inge
If U.S. Sen. Mark Warner wants another term as governor of Virginia, his campaign would enjoy a commanding early advantage, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.
In the poll released Wednesday, Warner, who has said he will not declare his campaign intentions until Thanksgiving, leads Republicans Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Warner leads Bolling by 20 percentage points (53-33,) and leads Cuccinelli by 18 (52-34,) according to the poll.
Among Virginians, Warner also enjoys a substantial advantage in favorability over Cuccinelli, Bolling, and Democratic candidate and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe.
Warner currently is polling with a 60 percent approval rating, much higher than fellow Democrat McAuliffe, whose approval rating is at 17 percent. Cuccinelli and Bolling notched approval ratings of 29 and 20 percent respectively. Among Republicans, Cuccinelli is considerably more favorable, with a 59-44 split.
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in the statement that Warner, if he chooses to run, would be the prohibitive favorite.
"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," Brown said in the statement.
Brown also said that McAuliffe, who is the only Democrat to have announced his candidacy so far, has a much harder road to climb.
"He is not well known and his rating among those who have an opinion of him it is not all that impressive," Brown said. "At this point McAuliffe is benefiting 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."