He said he predicts Tennant's support will shrink once the campaign season begins and Republicans begin attacking her on policy positions.
At the same time, Cornelius says he expects Capito's polling numbers to increase. Although she only represents a third of West Virginia's population, Capito already enjoys an approval rating just as high as Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, he said.
Both Cornelius and Democrat consult Mike Plant point out there are issues with the survey, however. Pollsters did not ask respondents about their party affiliation, or whether they planned to vote in the next election.
Plant said the survey also didn't take geography into account, meaning some areas could have been over-polled.
"Mark Twain once said 'Some people use statistics like a drunk uses a lamppost: more for support than illumination.' If you're using this poll for political purposes, you're probably using it more for support than illumination," Plant said.
Cornelius said the poll included an overly large sample of college graduates, 53 percent compared to the 17 percent identified by the U.S. Census Bureau, and people making more than $50,000. While only 26 percent of state residents made more than $50,000 or more per year according to the 2010 Census, 54 percent of respondents to the West Virginia Poll made $50,000 or more.
Capito campaign manager Chris Hansen declined to comment on the survey, saying the campaign would not comment on independent poll results.