Ken Cuccinelli may have the support he needs to make a second run at the Virginia governor's mansion in 2017.
In a poll released by Public Policy Polling on Friday, 37 percent of Virginia Republicans picked the former Virginia attorney general as their preferred nominee for governor. This follows Cuccinelli's loss to Democrat Terry McAuliffe in 2013 by a margin of around 2.5 percentage points.
In second place is former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at 16 percent. Cantor, who represented Virginia's 7th District, surprisingly lost a re-election bid for his seat in the primary to economics professor Dave Brat in 2014.
Cuccinelli was the most appealing name to Republican primary voters. Fifty-two percent said they had a "favorable" opinion of him, while 20 percent said "unfavorable." In second place, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie was far behind Cuccinelli at 35 percent favorable, and on the Democrat's side, current Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring sits at 33 percent.
PPP attributes Cuccinelli's strength to "voters who describe themselves as 'very conservative.'" He has a 67 favorability rating with them, compared with 11 percent unfavorable. Forty-seven percent want him as their candidate in 2017.
Seventy-two percent of primary voters said they are familiar with Cuccinelli, making him the most well known of the possible candidates tested in the poll, with Cantor coming in second at 62 percent and Gillespie in third at 52 percent.
On the Democratic side, name recognition may be an issue. Only 46 percent of primary voters recognized front-runner Mark Herring's name.
With 28 months to go before the 2017 election, a hypothetical match up between party-favorites Cuccinelli and Herring is dead even at 38 percent. State Sen. Mark Obenshain also tied with Herring while Cantor trailed him by three percent.
Gillespie has the broadest appeal among Virginia voters and actually beat Herring in a head-to-head contest 38 percent to 34 percent.
In a PPP poll in August of 2011, about the same amount of time out from the 2013 election, Cuccinelli actually held a 3 percent lead over McAuliffe in a similar hypothetical match up.
Under Virginia law, current Gov. Terry McAuliffe cannot run for a second consecutive term in office. However, a poll taken earlier this year shows his favorability among Virginians hovering around 50 percent, double the disapproval rating.