Debate (copy)

Tim Kaine, left, Corey Stewart.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., holds a double-digit lead over Republican challenger Corey Stewart, according to a recent poll commissioned by the University of Mary Washington.

The survey by national research firm SSRS showed Kaine with 49 percent support overall compared with 30 percent for Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. Kaine also led 51 percent to 33 percent among registered voters and 52 percent to 36 percent among likely voters.

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

Kaine is a heavy favorite over Stewart, a controversial candidate facing a large fundraising disadvantage. About 90 percent of Democrats support Kaine while 73 percent of Republicans favor Stewart, according to the poll. Kaine has support from 15 percent of Republicans ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

“By September, successful candidates usually have their partisans locked down,” Farnsworth said in a news release. “That so many Republicans favor Kaine at this point in the election is terrible news for Corey Stewart.”

Women favored Kaine by a 52 percent to 27 percent margin. The incumbent he held a smaller advantage among men, leading Stewart 45 percent to 33 percent, the survey showed.

About 39 percent of Stewart’s supporters said immigration was the country’s biggest problem, while 18 percent identified the economy and jobs as their main issue, the survey found.

Health care was the top issue for 29 percent of Kaine’s supporters, while 17 percent of them prioritized the economy and jobs.

The telephone poll of 801 adults in Virginia was conducted Sept. 4–9. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

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Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402