Gov. Bob McDonnell’s job approval rating has slipped slightly, but still remains high, according to a new poll released Thursday morning.
The Quinnipiac University poll says 57 percent of registered voters in Virginia approve of the way McDonnell (R) is handling his job, while 21 disapprove.
That’s down from 62 percent in October and 61 percent in September. It was 55 percent in June.
Sen. Mark Warner (D) received the highest marks in the state, with 62 percent approving of the way he is handling his job, and 23 percent disapproving.
Warner’s approval was 57 percent in June, 64 percent in September and 61 percent in October.
“Virginia retains its unusual status as a state where all the statewide elected officials, and the state legislature, are popular with voters,’’ said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute. “Of the seven states where Quinnipiac University conducts surveys, Virginia seems to have the greatest contentment with its politicians, both Republican and Democratic.’
McDonnell was elected in 2009 as part of a Republican sweep in Virginia along with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, whom he is supporting for the Republican nomination for governor in 2013 over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II.
The governor took office in the aftermath of the worst recession since the Great Depression. He has handled the state’s finances by shuffling money and reducing spending, not raising taxes. Voters who were polled supported balancing the budget through cuts rather than tax increases by a margin of 48 percent to 42 percent.
Bolling (R) has a 35 percent approval rating, with 18 percent of voters disapproving and 46 percent undecided. Cuccinelli has a 47 percent approval rating, with 27 percent of voters disapproving. But the poll did not poll voters about the 2013 race for governor.
Sen. Jim Webb (D), who announced in February that he would not run for reelection, has a 48 percent approval rating, with 29 percent of voters disapproving. That’s down slightly from October, when 51 percent of voters approved.
The poll on Virginia political issues also indicated that voters are split on the issue of uranium mining: 43 percent say mining should be allowed because of economic benefits, while 41 percent are opposed because of environmental concerns.
Two uranium deposits were found three decades ago in Coles Hill, near Chatham, a small town in Pittsylvania. The deposits begin at the ground’s surface, under land used for cattle, and run about 1,500 feet deep.
Virginia Uranium said tests indicate that about 119 million pounds of uranium — worth as much as $10 billion — are below the surface. It is the world’s seventh-largest known deposit — enough to supply all U.S. nuclear power plants for about two years or Virginia’s demands for 75 years.
On Monday, a highly anticipated report by the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering said that “steep hurdles” need to be surmounted before Virginia’s longtime ban on uranium mining could be lifted.
On the issue of abortion, the poll found that 58 percent of voters oppose a legislative proposal that would define life as beginning at conception. Thirty-two percent approve. Voters oppose lifting the state’s law limiting handgun purchases to one a month, 62 percent to 32 percent, and support by a margin of 75 percent to 20 percent a ban on allowing guns on college campuses.
The independent Quinnipiac poll, conducted by live interviewers with registered voters on land lines and cell phones, releases periodic voter surveys of office holders, candidates and issues in Connecticut, New York, New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. This year, it added Virginia, increasingly considered a swing election state.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,135 registered voters Dec. 13-19. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
On Wednesday, the university released its poll on next year’s U.S. Senate and presidential race in Virginia.