(CNN) - Incumbent Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, leads Republican challenger Ed Gillespie by a 20 percentage point margin, according to a new poll released Thursday.
The first-term senator and former governor, who's up for re-election in November, carries 50% of Virginia voters, compared to Gillespie's 30% in the hypothetical matchup survey conducted by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.
Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, announced his bid for the Senate last week. Though he has had several major leadership posts for Republicans, he has low name recognition in Virginia, according to the poll. When asked to give their opinion of Gillespie, 69% had no opinion, while 10% said they hold a favorable view of the Republican, compared to 9% who view him in an unfavorable light.
"The odds heavily favor Senator Warner, but he clearly has work to do to make the case to voters between now and November," said Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Public Policy, in a release.
A Roanoke College poll of Virginians released earlier this week indicated Warner ahead of Gillespie by almost 30 percentage points (50%-21%).
The survey also indicated Gillespie has work to do to boost his name ID; 75% of respondents did not know enough about him to have an opinion.
Gillespie will face off against two lesser known Republicans at the GOP state convention in June, where the Republican Senate nominee will be decided.
Gillespie, who serves as chairman of the largest group of GOP state leaders, the Republican State Leadership Committee, has served in major leadership posts for Republicans for many years, including in the George W. Bush White House and advising the candidacies of Mitt Romney in his 2012 presidential run and Bob McDonnell in his 2009 election as Virginia governor. He also worked as a lobbyist in Washington.
Those jobs have given Gillespie major access to Republican donors, which he will need to take on Warner.
The Wason Center for Public Policy interviewed 1,023 registered voters by phone from January 15-22. The sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College interviewed 633 residents by phone between January 13 and January 17. The poll's sampling error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.