(CNN)To date, Republicans on the ballot later this year and in 2018 have been relatively quiet about President Donald Trump's repeated self-inflicted wounds and dropping poll numbers. `
This poll shows Donald Trump is a BIG problem for Republicans
That might not last much longer.
A new poll conducted by The Washington Post shows Ed Gillespie, the likely Republican nominee in this fall's Virginia governor's race, trailing the two Democratic candidates by double digits. Former Rep. Tom Perriello holds a 50% to 37% edge over Gillespie while Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam leads the Republican 49% to 38%.
The main reason for Gillespie's struggles? Donald J. Trump.
Six in 10 Virginia voters disapprove of the job Trump is doing. More amazingly, the vast majority of that group (53%) strongly disapprove. Just 36% approved, with 21% feeling that way strongly.
Among independents, the loosely affiliated voters considered crucial in a swing state like Virginia, 59% disapprove of the job Trump is doing, with 49% feeling that way "strongly." And as the Post story notes, six in 10 independents who disapprove of Trump would vote for either Northam or Perrlello over Gillespie in the general election ballot test.
There are a few other factors that could influence Gillespie's current problems. The Democratic contest has been far more high-profile, with the two candidates spending heavily on TV in advance of the June 13 primary, than the Republican race. The Democratic race is also much closer -- Perriello was at 40% to 38% for Northam in the Post poll -- than the Republican one where Gillespie appears to be running away with it.
But, it's clear that the main reason for Gillespie's struggles is the unpopularity of Trump. Remember that Virginia is a state that he not only lost in the general election to Hillary Clinton by six points but one he also lost in the primary to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
The state's massively expanding population in northern Virginia has moved the Old Dominion away from its long history as a Republican stronghold. But Trump's aggressive and unapologetic brand of conservatism makes the GOP case in the state even more complicated. Gillespie is as establishment a figure as they come -- he was the chairman of the Republican National Committee -- but is still suffering under the brand damage Trump (and, to a much lesser extent, former GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell) have inflicted.
The Virginia governor's race is one of three contests in the coming months that will be closely examined by nervous Republicans for signs of how much Trump could hurt their own reelection prospects. The other two are the special election in Montana on Thursday -- a top political handicapping site just moved that race into its "toss up" category" -- and the Georgia 6th Congressional District special election runoff on June 20.
Lose any one of those three races and Republican nerves will be jangling. Lose two and there will be panic in some (many?) quarters of the GOP. Lose all three and chaos will ensue.
This poll, coupled with data out of Georgia showing that race neck and neck as well as growing concern among Republicans in Montana, will raise the collective blood pressure of GOPers working to hold their majorities in the House and Senate.
And rightly so. These are the sort of poll numbers that suggest an anti-Trump wave is building out in the ocean. And every Republican should be worried about that prospect.