Despite receiving national attention, the Star Scientific story has yet to resonate widely: Just 32 percent of all Virginia residents say they are following even somewhat closely, including a slender 9 percent following “very closely.”
Still, nearly three-quarters say there should be limits to the amount of gifts made to candidates or officeholders; only two in 10 take no issue with the current rule, which allows unlimited gifts, as long as they are disclosed. Additionally, 73 percent say gifts to immediate family should be reported.
“He’s the governor and . . . he should know what is right,” said Frank Cosgrove, 60, of Fairfax. A former auditor for the federal government, Cosgrove said the rules at his job forbade employees to accept any gifts over $25.
“That’s kind of odd that there’s no guidelines,” Cosgrove said of state rules. “I just don’t like that because anybody could give them anything . . . I don’t think that’s right. Federal employees couldn’t do that. We just had rules we had to follow.”
Nancy Grant, 81, of Reston, a self-described “born, lifelong Democrat,” said she disapproved of the gift to McDonnell’s daughter.
“I don’t think, in his political position, that was a very wise move,” she said. “He should’ve paid for his own daughter’s wedding. He certainly could afford to.”
The governor’s high marks could be attributed to Virginians’ good feelings about the state of the commonwealth. Asked how they would rate the overall economy of Virginia, 62 percent of registered voters say the economy is “excellent” or “good,” compared with 37 percent who say “not so good” or “poor.”
Under McDonnell, Virginia has reported a $1.4 billion budget surplus, some of which he has used to boost the state’s rainy day coffers and restore higher education funding.
This Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone April 29 to May 2, among a random sample of 1,000 Virginia adults, including 887 registered voters and users of both conventional and cellular phones.
The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; it is 4 points for the sample of registered voters.
Craighill is polling manager for Capital Insight, the independent polling group of Washington Post Media. Capital Insight’s director of polling, Jon Cohen; pollster Scott Clement; and staff writers Fredrick Kunkle, Ben Pershing and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.