RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In a new poll, Virginians were divided when asked whether they would support Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) or Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) in a hypothetical 2024 U.S. Senate election.
The statewide poll, released Wednesday by the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington, found that 41% of respondents would back Kaine and 39% would vote for Youngkin. Ten percent said they didn’t know or didn’t respond, with 5% saying they wouldn’t vote and 5% saying they would pick another candidate.
Despite Kaine’s slight edge, the results were within the survey’s margin of error, which was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the total sample and plus or minus 4.1 percentage points for the poll’s likely voters portion.
“Governor Youngkin has been building his national profile in recent weeks as he campaigns for Republican candidates around the country, and that could help him if he chooses to run for the Senate,” Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of UMW’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, said in a statement accompanying the poll.
Speculation about Youngkin’s presidential ambitions has continued to grow with his campaign stops for Republican candidates across the country that have raised his profile. While the moves by Youngkin suggest a potential presidential run, Farnsworth said the poll results indicate that another path is on the table.
“While there has been some buzz lately about the governor being a possible presidential candidate, this poll suggests Youngkin has additional political opportunities here in Virginia,” he said.
Virginia governors can’t serve consecutive terms, a reality that would require Youngkin to leave office before his term ends in 2026 to pursue the presidency or a Senate seat.
So far, Youngkin has said he is focused on the commonwealth and has tried to distance himself from talk about a possible presidential bid. But he hasn’t closed the door and didn’t commit to backing former President Donald Trump if he were to run in 2024.
The poll shows an advantage for Kaine among women surveyed (42%-36%) and Youngkin with an edge among the men who responded (42%-40). According to the survey, Kaine’s job approval rating was 36% and Youngkin’s was 45%.
When asked about the 2022 congressional midterms, 37% of respondents said they plan on voting for a Republican and 39% said they plan on voting for a Democratic candidate.
Forty-four percent said President Joe Biden would be a major factor in their decision on who to vote for and 46% said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the constitutional right to an abortion.
There were 1,000 Virginia residents surveyed for the poll from Sept. 6 to Sept. 12 — 819 registered voters and 705 likely voters — with 630 responses by phone and 370 respondents contacted online, according to the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington.