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Poll: Approval ratings in Va. drop across party lines

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In the all-important swing state of Virginia, no state politician cracked 50 percent in their approval ratings in a poll released Tuesday, though a strong plurality of voters approve of the job performances of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and Democratic Sen. Mark R. Warner.

Forty-four percent of likely voters approve of Mr. McDonnell's job performance, compared to 36 percent who disapprove, according to the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling firm. Mr. Warner, meanwhile, has a 20-point approval/disapproval split, at 49 percent to 29 percent.

Voters were essentially split on retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Webb. Thirty-five percent approve of his job performance, compared to 34 percent who disapprove and 31 percent who weren't sure.

Voters' opinions on the two men trying to replace Mr. Webb, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen, were lukewarm. Forty-one percent have a favorable opinion of Mr. Allen, and 41 percent likewise have an unfavorable opinion of him. Forty-two percent have a favorable opinion of Mr. Kaine, while 44 percent have an unfavorable one.

Mr. Kaine held a one-point lead over Mr. Allen in the race at 47 percent to 46 percent, well within the poll's margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

"This race hasn't really moved a bit in two years and there's not much reason to think that it will in the next seven weeks either," said PPP President Dean Debnam. "More than likely someone is going to end up winning this one by a point or two."

One politician who is clearly underwater is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican who got a 25 percent approval rating compared to 40 percent who disapproved.

The poll of 1,021 likely Virginia voters was conducted from Sept. 13-16.
It should be noted that PPP is somewhat of an outlier compared to the same politicians' numbers in other polls, however.

For example, in eight PPP polls between November 2010 and September 2012, Mr. Warner has averaged a 53 percent approval rating and a 28 disapproval rating. However, an average of eight polls from other outfits gives him a 62 percent approval rating and just a 25 percent disapproval rating.

A similar phenomenon is seen for other state politicians.

Between October 2011 and September 2012, Mr. McDonnell averaged a 58 percent approval rating and a 31 percent disapproval rating in an average of 15 non-PPP polls. But in five PPP polls, his average is wildly different: A 45 percent approval rating and a 43 percent disapproval rating.

Similarly, Mr. Webb averages a 42 percent approval rating and a 34 disapproval rating in seven PPP polls since November 2010. But in five other polls, he averages a 49 percent approval rating and a 30 disapproval rating.

So in terms of splits between approval and disapproval, Mr. McDonnell actually outperformed his PPP-only averages in the poll released Tuesday, while Mr. Warner and Mr. Webb slightly underperformed theirs.

It's also worth noting that more than one-fifth of voters were unsure whether they approved or disapproved of both Mr. McDonnell, the state's current governor and a national figure in the Republican Party, and Mr. Warner, a man who remains the state's most popular politician and someone who toyed with a presidential run in 2008.

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