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Poll shows Kaine with early edge in re-election bid

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U.S. Senator Tim Kaine has an early lead in his quest for re-election, according to a poll by the University of Mary Washington.

Kaine, a Democrat, has double-digit leads over three potential Republican rivals, Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart and U.S. Reps. Dave Brat and Scott Taylor. Of the three GOP officials tested in the survey, only Stewart so far is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Kaine in 2018.

“The latest Mary Washington survey demonstrates that Tim Kaine remains popular in Virginia,” Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of its Center for Leadership and Media Studies, said in a statement. “But any statewide election in ‘purple’ Virginia is likely to tighten up as the contest draws nearer.”

The poll of 1,000 state residents was conducted for Mary Washington by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on Sept. 5-12.

Registered voters in the survey favored Kaine over Stewart by a 53 percent to 36 percent, compared with 54-36 against Brat and 52-37 against Taylor.

The university said the three Republicans suffer from limited name recognition statewide. Among registered voters, only 25 percent said they could offer a general opinion about Stewart, a  Republican gubernatorial candidate earlier this year. People who could offer a general assessment of Stewart were split, with 11 percent having a favorable assessment and 14 percent an unfavorable one.

Voters also were split on Brat, with 9 percent having positive and 9 percent having negative assessments. Ten percent of registered voters were positive about Taylor, and 6 percent were negative.

For Kaine, 40 percent of registered voters had a positive assessment and 29 percent had an unfavorable one. Twenty-nine percent said they were unsure about Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate in 2016.

Asked which candidate they would prefer to be the Republican nominee, 20 percent of registered voters in the survey favored Taylor, 12 percent picked Stewart and 9 percent wanted Brat. Others said they were undecided.

“The Republican Party had a close nomination contest for governor this year, and these results suggest that there is an opening for an alternative to Stewart in the GOP next year,” Farnsworth said.

The registered voter survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

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