Virginia Republicans haven’t united behind a candidate to take on Tim Kaine, poll shows

 March 5

More than three months ahead of the primary for U.S. Senate, about two-thirds of Virginia Republicans don’t have a favorite candidate to face Sen. Tim Kaine (D), according to a poll released Monday morning.

The Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University also found President Trump’s approval rating in Virginia stands at 37 percent, while 52 percent of voters “strongly disapprove” of the job he’s doing as president.

The Wason Center surveyed 1,562 registered Virginia voters. The poll has an overall margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

In the GOP Senate primary, Corey Stewart, the self-styled mini-Trump who nearly won the gubernatorial nomination last year, has a slight lead, but 66 percent of voters are undecided, the poll found. The primary is June 12.

The other candidates are evangelical pastor E.W. Jackson; Bert Mizusawa, a retired major general in the U.S. Army Reserve and foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign; two-term state Del. Nicholas J. “Nick” Freitas (R-Culpeper); and political newcomer Ivan Raiklin.

Stewart enters as the most well-known candidate with the support of 16 percent of potential GOP primary voters. Jackson has 7 percent, followed by Freitas with 6 percent.

The race will be an uphill battle for any Republican because Kaine is coming off a national ticket that, although it lost nationally, prevailed in Virginia.

He is seeking a second term with a 53 percent favorability rating and a lead of at least 20 points on potential GOP challengers.

While 57 percent of Virginians say the state is on the right track, only 32 percent say the same about the nation.

The 25-point split “reflects Democrats’ and independents’ deep dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump’s performance, a result that remains largely unchanged among Virginia voters since he took office,” Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center, said in a statement.

Trump has lost a bit of support from Republicans who voted for him but maintains robust support among his most loyal backers, he said.

“If Trump’s approval-disapproval is a guide,” Kidd said, “the 2018 elections are setting up to be base elections in Virginia.”