Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s approval rating dropped as he and state lawmakers made it easier to buy guns and more difficult to get an abortion, a new poll finds.

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Feb. 10. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

That was the lowest rating for McDonnell (R), often mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick, since the independent Quinnipiac began Virginia surveys in June, 2011.

Virginia voters took a significantly dimmer view of the General Assembly and of bills it passed requiring women to get ultrasounds before abortions and lifting the state’s 19-year-old limit on handgun purchases to one per month. Only 38 percent of voters approved of the job the legislature is doing, down nine points from February.

The percentage of women who approve of McDonnell dropped from 54 percent to 49 percent, and the number who disapprove rose from 25 percent to 34 percent. Fifty-eight percent of men approve of the governor’s job performance, down from 62 percent last month, and 31 percent do not approve, up from 23 percent.

Virginia voters disagree, by a margin of 52 percent to 41 percent, with a new law that requires women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound examination at least 24 hours before the procedure. Seventy-two percent of voters said the government should not make laws which try to convince women seeking an abortion to change their minds; 21 percent disagreed.

By a margin of 53 percent to 40 percent, voters also prefer Virginia’s old gun law, which limited an individual’s handgun purchases to one per month, over the new law, which has no limits.

“The governor’s numbers are down, from a net positive 34 percentage points last month to a net 21 points today, but he’s still above the 50-percent mark,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “The controversy over the ultrasound and handgun bills would be a logical explanation for the decline in his approval rating, which had been above 60 percent for much of last year.”

Brown was struck by the sharp decline in the General Assembly’s popularity from rare positive territory last month.

“Virginia had been the only state surveyed by Quinnipiac University in which the State Legislature had received a net positive job approval,” Brown added. “The fact that the legislature’s approval dropped so much, while approval ratings for other statewide elected officials are basically unchanged indicates that voter dissatisfaction is targeted.”

The state’s other statewide elected officials all retain their net positive ratings in the new poll:

·U.S. Sen. Mark Warner: 62 percent approve, 23 percent disapprove;

·U.S. Sen. Jim Webb: 49 percent approve, 28 percent disapprove;

·Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling: 36 percent approve, 21 percent disapprove;

·Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli: 45 percent approve, 32 percent disapprove.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,034 registered voters on cell phones and land lines for the poll. The poll, conducted between March 13 and 18, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and the nation as a public service and for research.

On Tuesday, the university released the first part of its poll.