Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine holds an 18-point advantage on his Republican challenger in his race for a second term, according to the first poll in the state for the general election.
Kaine led GOP nominee Corey Stewart, 54 percent to 36 percent, in a survey conducted by Quinnipiac University from June 21 to June 25.
“U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine is in very strong shape for reelection in Virginia, especially among women,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, said in a statement.
“Virginia, which was once a solidly red state, has made the full transition to a blue bastion. Voters in the Old Dominion are happy with the way things are going in their state and they give their statewide Democratic office-holders good approval ratings,” Brown said.
Kaine had a 20-point lead among independent voters surveyed in the poll, a crucial sector of the electorate.
The former Old Dominion governor also held a 2-1 advantage among women, 61 to 28 percent.
The poll also found that 32 percent of Virginia voters said they had a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, while 59 percent had an unfavorable opinion.
Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, won a hotly contested GOP primary by just two points earlier this month.
President Donald Trump has signaled his support for Stewart, tweeting after Stewart won the June 12 primary, “Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!”
But Republicans in the state are worried Stewart’s controversial comments and campaign style could cause headaches for other GOP candidates in the state this fall.
At an event last year, Stewart dubbed Virginia the state of Confederate generals “Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson” and has repeatedly defended memorabilia such as the Confederate battle flag as Virginia’s “heritage” and “identity.”
Kaine’s campaign has likened Stewart’s campaign rhetoric to a more brazen version of the president’s.
“A cruder imitation of Donald Trump who stokes white supremacy and brags about being ‘ruthless and vicious,’ Corey Stewart would be an embarrassment for Virginia in the U.S. Senate, where he would eliminate health care for millions of Americans and slash public education funding,” communications director Ian Sams said in a statement after the Virginia primaries.
Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by 5 points statewide in 2016.
The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,082 Virginia voters via live phone interviews from June 21 to 25. The sampling error of the survey was plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.