A new poll shows Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) starts off his race against former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie with a lead 20 points, but he takes just half of the vote.
But Warner still remains heavily popular in the commonwealth, as Republicans look to make the race a top-tier target. Sixty-three percent of voters approve of the job the former governor has been doing, and 56 percent believe Warner deserves to be reelected.
Still, the numbers are likely to shift, as voters tune into the race. The survey showed a large majority of respondents still have no opinion of Gillespie, real-estate agent Shak Hill and Navy veteran Howie Lind, both also running for the Republican nomination.
Republicans remain enthusiastic about Gillespie’s shot at taking down Warner. They believe his personable campaigning style and significant fundraising skills could make him a formidable challenger for Warner, though they admit he enters the race an underdog.
The survey was conducted among 1,023 registered Virginia voters from Jan. 15-22 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.