David Yates Sep. 26, 2014, 10:09am

RICHMOND, Va. (Legal Newsline) – A new poll shows Virginia U.S. Sen. Mark Warner leads his Republican challenger, Ed Gillespie, by a 48-39 percent margin, with six percent of likely voters favoring Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis.

With Sarvis out of the race, Warner has a 50-41 percent likely voter lead, according to a Thursday Quinnipiac University poll.

"U.S. Sen. Mark Warner has been the most popular politician in Virginia for the past several years and appears to be in reasonable shape for re-election," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "But his lead is not insurmountable with six weeks to go until Election Day."

In the three-way matchup, Warner leads Gillespie 94-1 percent among Democrats, with three percent for Sarvis. Gillespie leads Warner 78-15 percent among Republicans, with two percent for Sarvis. Independent voters are split with 43 percent for Gillespie, 41 percent for Warner and nine percent for Sarvis, the poll shows.

There is a small gender gap as women back Warner 50-37 percent, with three percent for Sarvis, and men go Democratic 46-41 percent, with nine percent for Sarvis.

Their mind is made up, 77 percent of likely voters say, while 21 percent of voters say they might change their mind in the six weeks until Election Day.

"Warner's reputation as one of the more conservative Democrats in the Senate may be making the difference here," Brown said.

"Sen. Warner probably has more to fear from outside rather than inside Virginia. If the election turns out to be the kind of national wave for which Republicans are hoping he might be the kind of incumbent who could find himself tossed around like Republicans were in 2006 and Democrats were in 2010."

By a 52-34 percent margin, Virginia likely voters have a favorable opinion of Warner. Gillespie gets a 34-26 percent favorability rating, while 37 percent don't know enough about him to form an opinion, the poll says.

Sarvis remains largely unknown as 77 percent of likely voters don't know enough about him to form an opinion.

From Sept. 17-22, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,010 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com

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