Tim Kaine may not have made a decision yet but Democratic voters in Virginia have made theirs: by an overwhelming margin they hope Kaine will be their Senate candidate in 2012.
Given a laundry list of names to choose from 53% of primary voters in Virginia say Kaine is their first choice to 9% each for Tom Perriello, Rick Boucher, and Bobby Scott, 8% for Doug Wilder, 3% for Gerry Connolly, and 1% for Glenn Nye.
There's a strong sentiment on behalf of Kaine with every faction inside the party. 56% of moderate voters, 56% of 'somewhat liberal' ones, 50% of 'very liberal' ones, and 50% of 'somewhat conservative' ones say he's their main. His support is steady across racial lines (53% of whites and 54% of African Americans put him first), and he has huge advantages with both genders (59% of men and 49% of women.)
When you narrow the list to just the three names that have generated the most buzz, 65% of Democrats pick Kaine to 15% for Tom Perriello and 11% for Rick Boucher.
Kaine is far better known than the other names in this mix. 85% of Democrats have an opinion about him with 75% rating him favorably to only 10% with an unfavorable view. By comparison Perriello's name recognition is just 49% and Boucher's is only 38%. Because of that there might be some temptation to write off Kaine's advantage as just a product of his being better known. But consider this: among the 34% with a positive opinion of Perriello Kaine is still their first choice as a candidate by a 62/29 margin. And even among the small group who know and like Boucher- accounting for just 16% of Democrats in the state- Kaine is favored by a 43/38 margin.
Our general election numbers last week showed that Democrats in Virginia don't need Kaine in order to have a good shot at holding onto this seat next year. But they do want him.
Full results here