News4's Northern Virginia Bureau covers the races

Poll: Scandals Take Toll on McDonnell's Popularity

Thursday, Oct 31, 2013  |  Updated 2:31 PM EDT
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Poll: McDonnell's Approval Rating Drops

AP

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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Dogged by federal and state criminal investigations, Gov. Bob McDonnell's job approval has slid to its lowest point yet in Quinnipiac University's polling of Virginia voters.

Only 46 percent approved of McDonnell's performance as governor while 37 percent disapproved in a fresh statewide survey released Wednesday. In Quinnipiac's October 2011 poll, two out of every three respondents approved of the governor's performance. He has sunk from a 53 percent approval mark in March and 49 percent in May.

The Connecticut-based university interviewed 1,030 registered Virginia voters by phone from Thursday through Monday. The poll's margin of sampling error is plus-or-minus 3.1 percentage points.

"The lofty levels of 2-1 job approval that ... McDonnell once enjoyed have slipped away with six months left in his term. He's under 50 percent for the second poll in a row with just a 9 point net approval after substantial media coverage of his relationship with a campaign donor and associated problems,'' Quinnipiac University Polling Institute's assistant director, Peter Brown, said.

More than three-fourths of those surveyed had heard or read at least something about federal and state investigations into McDonnell's ties to Star Scientific Inc. and its chief executive, Jonnie Williams, and whether the governor used his office to promote a product in return for thousands of dollars in personal gifts from Williams to McDonnell family members.

"Certainly it wasn't good news for the governor," democrat Tina Wallace told  News4. "It's a situaiton where it just doesn't look good for him. There is evidence of impropriety and I don't think our elected officials should engage in that type of behiavior."

Twenty-seven percent said they believed McDonnell was involved in serious wrongdoing, five percent said it was not serious, and 16 percent said they didn't think he was involved. Forty-nine percent said they had heard too little to comment.

"So far it hasn't shaken my view of him," Greg Roberts said. "Right now, it seems more like partisan politics or them trying to find somethign to discredit him in some capacity."

Asked whether McDonnell was honest and trustworthy, 44 percent said yes, 36 percent said no, and 21 percent didn't know or didn't answer.

"I am paying attention to it to see where it's going," Kirk Maskalenko said. "I think Bob McDonnell has been good for Virginia and so I'd like to hearmore and see where it goes. At this point, I still have a positive opinion of him."

A similar question asked voters to compare McDonnell with "most people in public life.'' Twelve percent felt he has more honesty and integrity than most, 17 percent felt he had less, and 60 percent felt he was about the same.

Amid calls from Democratic legislators for the Republican governor to resign, a huge majority -- 61 percent -- disagreed and said he should serve out his term ending Jan. 14. Sixteen percent said he should resign and 20 percent didn't know or wouldn't say.

"It seems shady to me," Marsha White said.

The poll suggests McDonnell lost the most ground among women. Fifty-three percent of men surveyed approved of McDonnell's job performance to just 33 percent who disapproved, but 42 percent of women disapproved to 40 percent who approved.

At least McDonnell is more popular than Virginia's General Assembly. Forty-two percent disapproved of the legislature's performance to 41 percent who approved. That's not as bad as the rating lawmakers got in Quinnipiac's May and February polls, when only 38 percent approved.

The highest job-approval mark of any Virginia elected official was Sen. Mark R. Warner's at 61 percent. Warner is seeking re-election to a second term next year. The state's other Democratic senator, Tim Kaine, got his highest score since he was elected last fall at 51 percent.

Fifty-one percent disapproved of the job President Barack Obama is doing and 46 percent approved. Obama's highest mark in Virginia was in January, when he was inaugurated to his second term.

RELATED COVERAGE ON NBCWashington.com:


 

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