Despite a raft of negative headlines about gifts from a major donor and an FBI investigation, a majority of Virginia voters approve of the job Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is doing, and a plurality would pick him to be governor again if they could, according to an NBC4/NBC News/Marist poll.
McDonnell has seen his approval rating among registered voters slip – from 61 percent in May to 55 percent now.
Still, that rating surpasses President Barack Obama’s standing in Virginia – 48 percent of Virginia voters say they approve of the job the president is doing, while 47 percent disapprove. In May, Obama had a 51 percent job-approval rating.
Virginia law bars governors from running for two or more consecutive terms. But if they could, McDonnell edges out Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe by a 47-42 percent margin. However, that's down from McDonnell's 15-point advantage in May, 51-36 percent, suggesting the toll that the negative headlines have taken on his governorship.
McDonnell's favorability ratings also have taken a slide -- from 58 percent favorable in May to 49 percent now. Still, that 49 percent is better than either McAuliffe or Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the current Republican nominee for governor.
"He still has a good approval rating, and that’s being driven by most Virginians thinking things are headed in the right direction," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll. "People are comfortable with the direction of the state -- despite headlines that have not been favorable to him."
Almost six-in-10 say the state is headed in the right direction -- 59 percent of registered voters said so versus 36 percent who think it needs new direction. That's largely unchanged from May when 61 percent said it was headed in the right direction.