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    Wason Center poll: Jeb Bush surpasses Hillary Clinton in Virginia

    Republican Jeb Bush would have defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential contest in Virginia were it held earlier this month, according to a Christopher Newport University Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy poll released Monday.

    Forty-eight percent of the 658 registered Virginia voters polled said they would've voted for Bush, a former governor of Florida and brother of President George W. Bush, if the election fell when the polling was conducted, from April 13-24. Forty-six percent of respondents supported Clinton, and 6 percent were undecided. In February, a CNU poll found 48 percent in support of Clinton, 43 percent for Bush and 9 percent undecided.

    Yet the new CNU poll also found Virginia Republicans are split on who they should nominate for president. To that question, Jeb Bush narrowly led fellow Floridian and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio 17 percent to 16 percent. Three candidates were tied at 10 percent a piece – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

    “The Republican field continues to be very fluid,” Tom Kramer, assistant director of the Wason Center, said in an analysis of the poll.

    Clinton, the major front-runner for the Dems, has both the highest favorability (44 percent) and highest unfavorability (52 percent) among Virginia voters. Both Vice President Joe Biden and former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat who has announced he is considering a bid for his party's nomination, have 35 percent favorability ratings.

    Bush and Rubio had the highest favorability ratings among Republicans at 33 percent.

    The poll found Clinton defeating the non-Bush GOP prospects, although she didn't hit the 50 percent mark against any of then.

    “Battleground Virginia will live up to its name in 2016,” Kramer noted. “In the face of a barrage of attacks from her real and potential Republican challengers, Clinton's once formidable position has weakened, as we knew it would. Even at this very early state, the 2016 presidential election in Virginia is shaping up to be a closely fought contest.”

    The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4.6 percent. Thirty-three percent of respondents were from Northern Virginia, 21 percent from Richmond and central Virginia, 24 percent from Hampton Roads and 22 percent from south and southwest Virginia.

    Additional findings from the Christopher Newport University Wason Center survey include:

    -President Barack Obama (D) holds a 41 percent approval rating, while 59 percent of those polled think the country is heading in the wrong direction.

    -This is the first time Jeb Bush has bested Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical match-up in Virginia.

    -Hillary Clinton dominated the pack of Democratic prospects, taking 80 percent of the theoretical vote. Webb came in second with 6 percent, while Biden earned 5 percent.

    -Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, held a 14 percent favorable rating, 27 percent unfavorable and 58 percent of respondents said they don't know.

    -Five percent of those surveyed said they would vote for Donald Trump were the GOP primary held today, well above the 2 percent who said they would support Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

    Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @TrevorBaratko.

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