They like him. They really like him. But his policies, well ... that may be another story.
Gov. Bob McDonnell has a 2-to-1 approval rating in Virginia, according to a new statewide poll.
That's not really a surprise. But what might have been surprising in the poll was that respondents seem to be ready to end Virginia's ban on adoptions by same-sex couples.
The independent Quinnipiac University poll, in its first statewide survey of Virginia, interviewed 1,434 registered voters by phone from June 21-27, and the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
Fifty-five percent of those polled said they approved of McDonnell's performance during his nearly 18 months in office. Governors in Virginia are limited to a single, non-renewable four-year-term. Twenty-six percent disapproved of his performance and 19 percent were undecided.
Peter Brown, executive director of the Connecticut-based university's polling institute, said McDonnell's approval rating is among the nation's best for governors and tops his high-profile
Republican counterparts in New Jersey, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.
McDonnell has been mentioned as a potential vice presidential running mate on a 2012 Republican ticket challenging President Barack Obama's re-election. He has said he would consider such a run if asked.
But McDonnell is more popular than his policies, the poll indicates.
Fifty-seven percent said they like McDonnell personally compared to just 16 percent who said they didn't, and 27 percent didn't know or did not answer.
When asked about the conservative agenda McDonnell has pursued since taking office, 48 percent approved, 33 percent disapproved and 19 percent offered no opinion.
The results were identical when respondents were asked about the job the General Assembly has done: 48 percent approved, 33 percent disapproved and 19 percent were undecided or mute.
Forty percent approved of the budget McDonnell and the legislature enacted last winter, which takes effect Friday. Thirty percent disapproved and 29 percent were undecided.
A majority, 52 percent, opposed gay marriage in Virginia while 41 percent would support it. Same-sex marriage is forbidden by both state law and the Virginia Constitution.
Yet a majority said the state should lift its prohibition on gay adoptions. Fifty-one percent said the state should allow couples of the same gender to adopt children, 43 percent supported the present
ban, and six percent had no opinion.
Democrats, 67 percent; independents, 52 percent; and women, 54 percent; favored same-sex adoptions. Only 33 percent of Republicans polled said they would endorse same-sex adoptions.
When asked if government-run agencies should discriminate against same-sex parents looking to adopt, opposition to the discriminatory policy increased to 59 percent while 35 percent said it should remain unchanged. But when asked if church-run adoption agencies should be allowed to deny adoptions to gay or lesbian couples, the results were closer: 48 percent said yes, and 45
percent said they should not be allowed to discriminate.
Virginia's social services board in April rejected proposed regulations that would have prohibited adoption agencies from discriminating against couples who want to adopt on grounds of sexual orientation.
The poll also found the respondents interviewed were split over whether Virginia should lift its ban on uranium mining.
Those who favored allowing the nation's largest uranium deposit to be unearthed from Pittsylvania County and those who opposed it were deadlocked at 41 percent each.
The General Assembly will be asked in its 2012 session to end the nearly 30-year-old ban on mining the mineral critical to fueling nuclear power plants and atomic weapons.