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Pollster: McDonnell’s plummet is striking

By   /   July 16, 2013  /   News  /   No Comments

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PLUMMETING APPROVAL: Gov. Bob McDonnell’s net approval rating sunk 12 points from the end of May to mid-July.

By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau

ALEXANDRIA—It looks as if the growing scandal involving Gov. Bob McDonnell’s family and a wealthy donor are starting to hurt the governor’s approval ratings.

The breadth of the approval plunge is surprising even pollsters.

McDonnell’s net approval rating took a 12-point dive over the past month, putting him in negative numbers for the first time since he took office, according to a poll released Monday from Public Policy Polling. Only 36 percent of those polled approved of McDonnell’s performance as governor; 41 percent disapproved.

Dustin Ingalls, assistant director for PPP, said it’s about the sharpest drop he’s seen in polling in recent memory. PPP last polled Virginia voters about McDonnell in late May.

“I do think that the magnitude of the drop in his approval rating is somewhat surprising,” Ingalls told Watchdog.org. “When you poll that frequently, you don’t’ usually see a poll drop that sharp.”

For months, it seemed, the Star Scientific saga was barely denting McDonnell’s public perception, but the most recent poll seems to indicate otherwise.

PPP took the public’s pulse after the Washington Post broke a story last week citing $120,000 more in undisclosed gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams to McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.

“It certainly is the biggest thing in the news that’s affecting McDonnell himself,” Ingalls said. “Certainly, there could be some policy (factor) as well. But most likely, that’s 90 percent of the drop in his approval rating.”

McDonnell’s ethical standing among the public is even worse. Just 31 percent of those polled consider him to be an ethical politician; 45 percent don’t.

Still, voters aren’t sure he should resign. Of those polled, 35 percent said he should; 45 percent said he should stay in office. The rest weren’t sure.

PPP surveyed 601 registered voters through automated telephone interviews from July 11-14, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

—Kathryn Watson is a reporter for the Virginia Bureau of Watchdog.org, and can be contacted at [email protected].


Bob McDonnell approval ratings from Public Policy Polling: