Poll: Obama’s ratings down in Va., McDonnell’s unchanged since August

September 19, 2013

RICHMOND — President Obama’s handling of the situation in Syria has dragged his approval ratings among Virginia voters to a two-year low, according to a poll released Thursday.

The Quinnipiac University poll found that 54 percent of registered voters in the commonwealth disapprove of his handling of Syria, while 52 percent disapprove of the job he is doing overall. That is down from a Quinnipiac survey in August, when 48 percent disapproved of his overall job performance and 48 percent approved.

“President Barack Obama’s job approval in Virginia is dropping into negative territory again with the controversy over what, if anything, the United States should do in Syria almost certainly a major reason,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a written statement. “As has been the case during his presidency, when the president’s overall approval is underwater, the driving force is independents moving out of his column. In this survey, Virginia independents give him a thumbs down by 20 percentage points. On handling Syria, independents disapprove almost 2-1.”

The poll also found that 46 percent of Virginia voters approve of the job Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) is doing.

That is down sharply from highs the term-limited Republican once enjoyed as one of the nation’s most popular governors, but it is about the same as the 47 percent approval rating he got in the August poll.

Brown said McDonnell’s job approval rating is strong considering that the governor is the subject of ongoing state and federal investigations into luxury items and money that a Virginia businessman gave to the McDonnell family. McDonnell has apologized and returned the gifts and $120,000 in money he characterized as loans, but also said he provided no state favors to Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr.

“Virginia voters’ view of their governor is mixed, with a 32 – 32 percent favorability,” Brown said. “Yet they continue to give him a positive job approval and one that is higher than some of his colleagues around the country who are not embroiled in controversy or being investigated for potential wrongdoing.”

Quinnipiac conducted its survey of 1,405 registered voters between Sept. 9 and Sept. 15, reaching them via land lines and cellphones It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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