Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) could be facing a tough reelection campaign next year, according to a Washington Free Beacon poll of Virginia voters conducted last week.
Fifty percent of Virginians said that Warner should be reelected against a generic candidate; 45 percent saying they would elect someone new. By a 49 to 43 percent margin, Independents said they would rather have a different senator than stick with Warner.
Regionally, Warner is over 50 percent only in Northern Virginia, while 63 percent of residents in Shenandoah favor the nameless, faceless new candidate.
The poll suggests that President Barack Obama’s dropping approval ratings amidst the disastrous Obamacare roll out are extending to Warner. Obama’s total disapproval in Virginia stands at 51 percent. Although his approval rating in Virginia (47 percent) is higher than the Gallup average (41 percent), 44 percent of voters "strongly disapprove" of Obama’s job performance.
Fifty-two percent of Virginians have an unfavorable view of the Affordable Care Act, including 45 percent who strongly oppose the law.
The health care law is impacting Warner’s favorability. The poll shows that Warner’s once high approval ratings have dropped significantly. When he left the Virginia’s governor office in 2008 Warner had a 70 percent approval rating. His approval now stands at 58 percent.
Kellyanne Conway, whose firm the Polling Company, Inc. conducted the survey on behalf of the Washington Free Beacon, said Warner is "decidedly vulnerable" in 2014.
"Obamacare and Obama are the real albatross around these candidates’ necks in 2014," she said. "The problem for Warner, not unlike some of his other colleagues up for reelection in other states, is that they’ve never been held to account in front of the voters for their support on Obamacare. The last time he ran was in 2008, Obamacare passed in March 2010."
"For candidates who are facing the voters for the first time since those votes were cast that can have a swift effect, you can see a negative effect to those realizations on their poll standings," Conway said.
Warner will have to "explain away the number of times he too promised Virginians that if they like their health care plan they can keep it," she said.
The poll also took a look at Virginians’ preference for 2016, finding that Hillary Clinton would defeat Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (51 to 41 percent) and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (50 to 43 percent) if the election were held today.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R.) would beat Clinton 44 percent to 42 percent. Christie also ties with Clinton among women voters, each winning 43 percent.
Warner, however, would defeat Christie by a margin of 42 percent to 41 percent, making him a stronger general election candidate than Clinton in Virginia.
"I already am dismissive of the ‘inevitability’ of Hillary hype only because some days I don’t know if it’s 2007 or 2013 when I hear she has it wrapped up, and nobody can beat her," Conway said. "The one person who refused to listen to that was Barack Obama.
"This is politics, anything can happen, including her not running," she said.
The poll also found that 41 percent of Virginians predict that Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe (D.) will be a "below average" governor. Twenty-three percent said he will be "one of the worst" governors in state history.
The poll was based on responses from 600 registered voters in Virginia and was taken between Nov. 19 and 20, with a margin of error of 4 percent.