While some people still seem to think that Jim Webb might not run for re-election in 2012, a new poll from Public Policy Polling shows that he’d be leading his potential GOP rivals if he did:
Jim Webb appears to be in decent position for reelection, if he doesn’t run again Tim Kaine would be an able substitute, and at this early stage George Allen is clearly the strongest potential candidate on the GOP side. Those are the takeaways from PPP’s first full scale poll of the 2012 Virginia Senate race.
Webb leads Allen 49-45 in a hypothetical contest, a margin slightly better than what he earned in his upset victory over Allen in 2006. Webb leads Allen 49-44 with independents and wins over slightly more Republicans (9%) than Allen does Democrats (6%). There’s been a lot of speculation in recent days about whether Webb might decline to seek a second term. We found that if Kaine was the Democratic nominee instead of Webb he would actually do slightly better, leading Allen 50-44.
Allen looks like he would be a much more formidable opponent at this point than either of Virginia’s down ballot statewide office holders, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli trails Webb 49-39 and Kaine 50-39 in possible contests, while Bolling trails Webb 49-38 and Kaine 48-41 in head to heads. For Bolling a large part of the problem is anonymity- 55% of voters in the state say they don’t know enough about him to have an opinion positive or negative. For Cuccinelli the problem is more that voters don’t like him- 39% have an unfavorable opinion of him while only 31% have a favorable one and independents split against him by a 28/42 margin.
The Kaine speculation strikes me as silly unless and until there are real signs that Webb might not run which, despite his recent expressions of frustration about how things are done on Capitol Hill, I don’t really consider to be a serious possibility at this point.