VA-Sen: Warner Maintaining Big Lead Over Gilmore

In a way, this isn't terribly newsworthy in the man-bites-dog rather than dog-bites-man sense, but I think it's worth mentioning here nonetheless. We're less than two months into the campaign to replace retiring GOP Senator John Warner, and former Democratic Governor Mark Warner continues to hold a significant lead over his likely Republican challenger, former Governor Jim Gilmore.

Gilmore (R)Warner (D)Rasmussen Reports
10/24/073753Washington Post
10/4-8/073161CNU
9/27/07-10/1/072751SurveyUSA
9/14-16/072762Rasmussen Reports
9/5/0734542-Month Ave.
9/5/07-10/24/0731.256.2

The problem here for Gilmore is not just that he doesn't come close to touching Warner in a head-to-head matchup or that, according to the Washington Post poll linked above, his favorable rating is just 40 percent compared to Warner's 67 percent. As I've noted before, while Warner is a truly prolific fundraiser, bringing in more than $1.1 million in less than three weeks in September, Gilmore is a terrible fundraiser, bringing in relatively little money to his abortive presidential bid, for which he still owes debts (and the donors to which he cannot turn to fund a Senate bid, at least until after he is officially nominated). As such, this race remains a real nightmare for the GOP, which runs a real risk of seeing a state that for years was fairly red (as recently as 2001 the state had a Republican Governor and two Republican Senators) turning at least slightly blue (with a Democratic Governor, potentially two Democratic Senators and even possibly a Democratic victory in the state on the presidential level, as well).

VA-Sen: No More Tom Davis to Kick Around Anymore?

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza has the scoop over at The Fix:

everal informed Republicans with ties to Virginia politics told The Fix earlier today that Rep. Tom Davis could announce as soon as this week that he will not run for the Senate seat being vacated by John Warner (R) in 2008.

When Sen. Warner announced just before Labor Day that he would leave the Senate at the end of his term, Davis was widely expected to enter the race. But the congressman has been hinting for the better part of a week that he has changed his mind.

The Virginia Republican Party's recent decision to select its Senate nominee via a convention instead of a primary election would be a major factor in a Davis decision to take a pass on the race. The convention will likely be dominated by the more conservative members of the party, making it harder for the more moderate Davis to win the nomination.

In the time since the news of Davis's decision was posted here around 8 p.m. ET Monday evening, Davis spoke with Washington Post reporter Amy Gardner, saying that while he plans to talk to the media on Thursday about his political future, he has not made a final decision about the race.

While the Davis camp has done a good job of spinning this decision as the inevitable consequence of the state Republican Party moving to hold a convention rather than a primary to chose its 2008 Senatorial nominee, a look at the polling from the race, which actually shows Davis performing more poorly than conservative former Governor Jim Gilmore in hypothetical matchups against former Democratic Governor Mark Warner, suggests that there may be other reasons for this move as well.

That said, this news could nonetheless spell trouble for the GOP as it desperately strives to hold on to the seat being vacated by John Warner. Gilmore isn't terribly popular and on average he trails Mark Warner by 27.2 points in recent polling. What's more, while Davis had a robust bank account from which he could at least mount a moderately serious campaign effort, Gilmore starts the campaign with close to $130,000 in debts from his abortive presidential bid -- and he can't turn back to those donors who already gave to him until the general election. Given that Mark Warner is raising money at a remarkable pace, things just aren't looking terribly rosy for the Republicans.

There's more...

VA-Sen: Rep. Tom Davis Reportedly Not Running For Senate

WaPo's Chris Cillizza is reporting that Rep. Tom Davis is expected to announce later this week that he won't compete for the Republican nomination for senate after all (h/t American1989 in the diaries).

Several informed Republicans with ties to Virginia politics told The Fix earlier today that Rep. Tom Davis could announce as soon as this week that he will not run for the Senate seat being vacated by John Warner (R) in 2008.

When Sen. Warner announced just before Labor Day that he would leave the Senate at the end of his term, Davis was widely expected to enter the race. But the congressman has been hinting for the better part of a week that he has changed his mind.

It looks as though the decision of the Virginia GOP a couple weeks ago to hold a convention to determine the nominee instead of a primary has, as expected, compelled Davis to step aside, although Davis is officially denying he's made any such decision.

In the time since the news of Davis's decision was posted here around 8 p.m. ET Monday evening, Davis spoke with Washington Post reporter Amy Gardner, saying that while he plans to talk to the media on Thursday about his political future, he has not made a final decision about the race.

This leaves many things up in the air including whether Davis will even run for re-election to his congressional seat next year, whether he'll give a senate run against Jim Webb in 2012 a go and even whether former Gov. Jim Gilmore will get in the race as he is expected to do and remain the only Republican in the field. But one thing's for sure, as Cillizza put it in his Senate rankings listing John Warner's seat the one mostly likely to switch parties:

Let's see. Former Gov. Mark Warner (D) raised more than $1 million in the first 17 days of his candidacy. The Post's own poll put Warner 30 points ahead of both of his potential Republican opponents -- Rep. Tom Davis and former Gov. Jim Gilmore. Republicans recently opted for a convention rather than a primary, a move likely to favor the more conservative, but less general-election friendly Gilmore...Put simply: It's good to be Mark Warner right now.

There's more...

Davis to NOT run for Senate

Cilliza of WahingtonPost.com has some good details:

Bottom line, Rep. Davis will NOT run and will announce later this week. This seat in VA is now a SOLID Democratic pick-up next year.

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/thefix/20 07/10/va_senate_davis_expected_to_op.htm l

There's more...

VA-Sen: Another Poll, Another Big Warner Lead

Christopher Newport University has just released its latest Virginia Poll on a range of topics, including the Senate race in the commonwealth. The survey included 700 registered voters voters between September 27 and October 1 (actually before the latest Washington Post poll, which Todd wrote up last week) and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

GilmoreWarnerDavisWarnerWashington Post
10/4-8/0731612863CNU
9/27/07-10/1/0727512751SurveyUSA
9/14-16/0727622762Rasmussen Reports
9/5/07345430572-Month Ave.
9/5/07-10/8/0729.857.028.058.3

As you can see from the poll graph, the CNU poll puts Warner up 51 percent to 27 percent over both Jim Gilmore and Tom Davis, a fairly healthy margin indeed. With numbers like these -- as well as the overall average of recent public polling which put Warner up 27.2 points up over Gilmore and 30.3 points up on Davis, and truly impressive fundraising numbers from the Warner campaign -- it's little wonder that the Cook Political Report has moved the Virginia Senate race from the "tossup" category to the "likely Democratic" category.

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