AP Political Writer
RICHMOND, Va. - A new poll of Virginia voters suggests that if Democratic Sen. Mark Warner seeks an encore term as governor, he'd dominate the field. But if he stays put, it's anybody's game.
Quinnipiac University's survey of 1,469 registered Virginia voters from Nov. 8-12 showed that 53 percent would support Warner in a matchup with Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling to Bolling's 33 percent.
Matched against Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, 52 percent support Warner and 34 percent back Cuccinelli.
Warner says he'll decide by Thanksgiving whether to seek another term as governor.
The only announced Democrat, Terry McAuliffe, would be about even with Bolling while 41 percent would back him against Cuccinelli, who would receive 37 percent.
The poll's margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
It showed that the best-known of the candidates in the 2013 gubernatorial field is Cuccinelli, who has become a lightning rod for anger from Democrats and adoration from conservatives, particularly the tea party, for failed challenges against Obamacare and a former University of Virginia climate science researcher. Only 45 percent said they didn't know enough about Cuccinelli to voice a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him. Twenty-nine percent had a positive view of him, and 24 percent had a negative one.
Seventy percent said they knew too little about Bolling, while 20 percent regarded him favorably and only 8 percent viewed him unfavorably. For McAuliffe, 17 percent viewed him positively and 13 percent had a negative opinion.
Among republicans, Cuccinelli's approval mark is 59 percent to 44 percent for Bolling.
The one who has yet to disclose his plans, Warner, had a 58 percent overall favorability rating to only 20 percent who held a negative view.
The poll also offered some bright news for Democrats in Virginia a week after President Barack Obama's re-election and Democrat Tim Kaine's U.S. Senate victory. Fifty-eight percent said they were optimistic about the next four years under Obama's watch compared to 39 who said they were not.
By about the same ratio, respondents said they felt Obama and the Democrats were more likely to make a good faith effort to work with Republicans who rule the U.S. House on issues important to voters. The most pressing of those issues is resolving the impasse over the "fiscal cliff" deadline of Jan. 2, the date deep automatic defense and non-military cuts kick in if there is no agreement on a plan to reduce the federal debt.
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