CNU poll: Warner 53, Gillespie 31

Christopher Newport’s polling unit has its post-Labor Day numbers out for the U.S. Senate race:

…Mark Warner holds a commanding lead over Ed Gillespie, 53% to 31% among likely voters, in the November 4 election for U.S. Senate. The Wason Center likely voter model takes into consideration how closely registered voters are following news about the election, and how likely they are to vote. Libertarian Robert Sarvis has 5% support, and 11% say they are undecided.

Warner’s lead is built upon solid support from Democrats and liberals, but also a sizeable level of support from what might be called “Warner conservatives.” Warner is in a much stronger position with Democrats (91%) than Gillespie is with Republicans (80%). Warner also has the support of 11% of Republicans, and almost half (48%) of Independents. Ideological moderates break for Warner over Gillespie, 60% to 21%. A majority of ideological conservatives back Gillespie (67%) but a significant segment favors Warner (19%).

Yes, the numbers should tighten before election day. And I am aware of the RPV’s suggestion that the survey sample in this poll skews slightly more Democratic than turnout showed in the 2012 election, when Tim Kaine beat George Allen and President Obama was winning Virginia over Mitt Romney. And yes, I also recall most polls showing Terry McAuliffe beating Ken Cuccinelli by double digits at this time last year were nowhere close to the final result. Except for the September, 2013 Bearing Drift poll, which showed a dead heat and the September Purple poll that found the two men in a very close race.

That was then.

Two things to consider now…

Warner got a hand from Terry McAuliffe when the Governor decided against picking a huge fight with the General Assembly over Medicaid expansion. McAuliffe and Warner are by no means close. But even frenemies can play ball now and then.

Gillespie needs a Republican wave to win. There are troubling signs for Democrats elsewhere in the country and Senate control is definitely in play. For the wave to reach Virginia, it has to be big.