Democratic Sen. Mark Warner has a 20-point lead over Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia, a new poll shows.
Warner, who is seeking a second term this year, leads Gillespie, a former national and state Republican Party chairman, 50%-30%, among registered voters in the Christopher Newport University poll.
The survey finds Gillespie, who is making his first bid for office, is largely unknown to Virginia voters but is better known than two other Republicans who are seeking to challenge Warner. Gillespie has a 10% favorable rating, the poll shows, while nearly 7 in 10 voters have no opinion of him.
"The odds heavily favor Senator Warner, but he clearly has work to do to make the case to voters between now and November," said Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.
The poll also finds that former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican who was indicted Tuesday on a wide array of corruption charges, remains in good standing among voters. McDonnell has an overall 57% approval rating from voters, while 32% said they disapproved of the job he did while governor.
The Christopher Newport poll found McDonnell's approval rating was 59% before a federal grand jury handed down a 14-count indictment alleging the former governor and his wife, Maureen, accepted gifts, loans and trips from a political donor in exchange for help with his business. After the indictment, McDonnell's approval rating dropped to 49%.
The poll of 1,023 registered Virginia voters was taken Jan. 15-22. It has a margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points.
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