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New poll shows Warner leads 2013 governor race — if he runs

In Virginia, the end of the presidential campaign means the focus turns to next year, and the governor’s race.

A new Quinnipiac University poll out today shows that if Sen. Mark Warner were to run for governor, he would lead the pack.

Warner, who was governor from 2002 to 2006, has not ruled out running for his old job, but says he’ll make a decision by Thanksgiving.

If he doesn’t run, the other three candidates currently in the race start out relatively even, the poll said.

Quinnipiac’s poll shows Warner leads both Republican candidates; he polled at 53 percent to Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s 33 percent, and 52 percent to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s 34 percent.

Without Warner in the mix, Democrat Terry McAuliffe — who officially said he’s in the race last week — polls at 38 percent to Bolling’s 36 percent, and 41 percent to Cuccinelli’s 37 percent.

But while those polled seemed to favor Warner in the race, a majority of them also said they’d prefer him to stay in the U.S. Senate, a seat he won in 2008.

Of those polled, 35 percent said they’d like him to stay in the Senate, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement. Another 30 percent — mostly Republicans, Brown said — would rather he not do either.

McAuliffe made a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2009, losing to Creigh Deeds (who then lost to now-Gov. Bob McDonnell). But  he’s never held an elected office in the state; Brown said McAuliffe right now “is benefitting from his Democratic identification, which reflects the party’s positive image in the state after President Barack Obama’s victory and the president’s 52 percent job approval.”

While Warner enjoys a high approval rating on his own, McAuliffe, Bolling and Cuccinelli are not as well known.

Warner’s approval rating in the poll was 58 percent; McAuliffe’s is 17 percent, Cuccinelli’s is 29 percent, and Bolling’s 20 percent. Sixty-eight percent of those polled said they didn’t know enough about McAuliffe to form an opinion; 70 percent said the same about Bolling, while Cuccinelli (who frequently makes headlines) is better known, with only 45 percent saying they didn’t know enough about him.

Among Republicans polled, Cuccinelli has a 59 percent favorable rating, to Bolling’s 44 percent. Those two are competing for the party’s nomination, which will be decided through a convention next year.

On another issue, those polled indicated less faith in Republicans in Congress to compromise than they showed in Democrats.

Asked if Obama and the Democrats in Congress would “make a good faith effort” to cooperate and work together now that the election is over, 58 percent of the total polled said yes; asked the same question about Republicans in Congress, 46 percent said yes.

Among partisans, only 21 percent of Republicans polled thought Democrats would try to cooperate (93 percent of Democrats said yes); 30 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans said they thought Republicans would try to cooperate.

Quinnipiac did the poll by having live interviewers call the landlines and cell phones of 1,469 registered voters between Nov. 8 and Nov. 12. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.