The Washington Post

Gov. Bob McDonnell is doing even better than you think

A new Washington Post poll shows Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has a 62 percent approval rating, better than any other elected official in the state. Actually, McDonnell may be doing even better than that.

In Virginia voters don’t register by party. However, we know from the 2009 gubernatorial election exit polls that 37 percent of Virginia voters identified as Republicans. Even in 2008, with a huge Democratic turnout the electorate was 33 percent Republican. However, in the most recent poll a mere 22 percent of the respondents were Republicans.

In sum, with a more representative sample one can postulate that McDonnell’s approval, already very high, would be even higher.

And it’s not that Virginians are in a forgiving mood these days.

As an Associated Press report noted:

Fifty-five percent polled approved of Democratic Sen. Jim Webb’s performance. Two of the men running to succeed him, Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine, both former governors, were at 46 percent apiece.

Virginia’s lightning-rod conservative attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, had a 46 percent job approval rating. Twenty-seven percent of those polled disapproved of his work since taking office and an equal percentage had no opinion.

And one more telling comparison: “Fifty-two percent said Virginia is on the right track; only 31 percent felt the same way about the nation.”

This is, of course, good news for the governor and for his future political prospects. But it is also a warning to President Obama and his potential 2012 challengers: Voters want results and they aren’t fond of hyper-partisanship. Too few tangible accomplishments and too much venom are a bad combination, especially in a key swing state like Virginia.

UPDATE (2:54 p.m.): A reader points to a more recent breakdown in Virginia’s party affiliation. Earlier this year Gallup had the split at 42 percent Republican and 41 percent Democrat.

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