Virginia governor's poll numbers decline amid allegations
July 17th, 2013
07:02 AM ET
9 months ago

Virginia governor's poll numbers decline amid allegations

Washington (CNN) - Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, once considered a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, continues to see his poll numbers decline amid a deepening gifts controversy.

According to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning, McDonnell's approval rating among Virginia voters now stands at 46%, down from 49% in May and 53% in March. And his disapproval rating has jumped from 28% in May to 37% now. The 46% approval rating for McDonnell is an all-time low in Quinnipiac polling, and is down dramatically from his all-time high of 62% back in October 2011.

McDonnell, who was under consideration last year as a potential running mate to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney - and who many considered would make his own run for the White House in 2016 - has been under investigation by the FBI for his relationship with a certain donor who provided multiple gifts, including large financial contributions, to the governor and his family.

The latest allegations, reported by the Washington Post last week, revealed the donor, Jonnie Williams Sr., had given $70,000 to a corporation owned by McDonnell and his sister, and a separate $50,000 check to McDonnell's wife. Williams owns a dietary supplement company that the McDonnells have promoted in recent years.

READ MORE: Virginia governor scandal: 'That's not the guy we know'

The FBI has not made any announcements about the investigation, nor has it given any indication that the governor will be charged.

For his part, McDonnell maintains the company has not received special state support, such as state benefits, economic development grants, targeted money from the budget, or board appointments.

By a 41%-30% margin, Virginia voters say they aren't satisfied in the way their governor is handling the controversy surrounding him, with 27% saying they think the wrongdoing is serious, 5% saying it's not serious, 16% saying he's not involved in any wrongdoing and nearly half of those questioned saying they haven't heard enough to make a judgment.

McDonnell sharply tamped down on rumors last week that he may be resigning as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

"I don't know where these things come up. Some of the press accounts have just been completely out of control about rumors, about resignation, so forth," he told CNN affiliate WTVR in an interview that ran last Tuesday.

McDonnell said the scrutiny has been disappointing.

"Thirty-seven years - no one's raised questions about my integrity or my character," he said.

According to the poll, only 16% of Virginia voters say McDonnell should resign, including 4% of Republicans, 29% of Democrats and 13% of independent voters. More than six in ten say the governor should not resign, with nearly one in four unsure.

"The lofty levels of 2-1 job approval that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell once enjoyed have slipped away with six months left in his term. He's under 50% for the second poll in a row, with just a 9-point net approval after substantial media coverage of his relationship with a campaign donor and associated problems," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Almost 80% of voters are aware of the controversy and seem to be somewhat concerned. The bottom line seems to be that they view him as just another politician, but at this point they are not clamoring for his scalp," adds Brown.

Virginia law prohibits governors from serving consecutive terms, so McDonnell is not running in this year's gubernatorial election. This year's GOP gubernatorial nominee, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, also has connections to Williams which have come under scrutiny.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted July 11-15, with 1,030 registered voters in Virginia questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


Filed under: Bob McDonnell • Polls • Virginia
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Radical extremist wingnuts involved,ALWAYS follow the money. Taking down two wingnuts with one stone in Virginia.

    July 17, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  2. Sheila

    So, it is close to the 2014 elections – duh! What is the real truth? Governor McDonnell has done a wonderful job for Virginia but, of course, the liberals must stop Cuccinelli, right? How better than to trump up charges, or make something up, to be sure Repubs lose the Commonwealth? Even if the governor didn't announce the extra funds, it is nothing compared to other things happening! VOTE Cuccinelli!

    July 17, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  3. loyalright

    It appears that Gov. Bob McDonnell is not as good as Obama in the scandal department. He has not learned from the master.

    July 17, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Williams owns a dietary supplement company that the McDonnells have promoted in recent years.
    ---------------------------------------------–
    It's time for McCorrupt to go! The extravagant gifts are a problem. But I'm more concerned to find out if the Governor or AG Cooch have any money invested in Mr. Williams' company and if they profited from having insider knowledge. That's the BIG question!!!

    July 17, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    Sheila, the election is this year, not 2014.

    July 17, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    "Thirty-seven years – no one's raised questions about my integrity or my character," he said.
    ----------------
    What has that got to do with it? Textbook faux indignation from a conservative. "How dare you insult my character/" Easy, dude. It's become apparent to us exactly what you are.

    July 17, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  7. Sheila

    LIke I said, the liberals are getting ready for the 2014s! Hypocrites – how about concentrating on real issues, like Benghazi, the IRS, etc.?

    July 17, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Like the song says: "It's getting hot in here so take off all your clothes.."!!
    I wouldn't want to dance to it.

    July 17, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Sheila wrote:

    ... What is the real truth? Governor McDonnell has done a wonderful job for Virginia but, of course, the liberals must stop Cuccinelli, right? How better than to trump up charges, or make something up, to be sure Repubs lose the Commonwealth? ...
    --------------------
    What is the real truth? The real truth is that Cuccinelli, acting as Virginia Attorney General, is the one who opened the investigation into McDonnell. The FBI got involved because the AG office had to call them because of the nature of some of the charges that could be brought against McDonnell.

    Crimes involving the exchange of money are a federal crime. Currency is the jurisdiction of the federal government.

    July 17, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  10. Data Driven

    "Turn out the lights, the party's over
    All good things must end ..." - "Dandy" Don Meredith

    July 17, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  11. Tampa Tim

    Sheila – You cannot be serious. Tell me that you are joking.

    July 17, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  12. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    VOTE Cuccinelli!
    -------------------------------------------------
    Not in a million years. Thanks for your attention in Virginia politics, but we Virginians got this! This election is a no brainer. AG Coochinelli makes Gov. Ultrasound look like an altar boy in terms of radicalism. This is just one of his latest tirades:

    "We're gonna have our 7th child on Monday, if he's not born before. And, for the very concerns you state, we're actually considering – as I'm sure many of you here didn't get a Social Security number when you were born, they do it now – we're considering not doing that. And a lot of people are considering that now, because it is being used to track you."

    July 17, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  13. Bill

    @Sheila

    Obviously, you need a lesson in what is considered proper decorum for an elected official. And you couild not make this stuff up. A 6500.00 watch because Mrs. McDonnel wanted it for a gift for the hubbie. What a joke. It is called lack of candor and breach of public trust. This clown has no political future. Larry Sabato at UVA had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing this this morning when asked about the trans-vaginal governor's future in politics.

    July 17, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. Sniffit

    And, what's more, he's building a legal team that suggests his pants are full. Someone appears to be worried about criminal charges....

    July 17, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  15. Jeff in Virginia

    A crook is a crook. Left, right, center, up, down, doesn't matter. Get rid of the guy and his cronies- that would include Cuccinelli.

    July 17, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  16. Thomas

    And this weasel was hopping Romney would pick him for his VP .

    The GOP looks bad.

    July 17, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. jinx9to88

    @ Sheila

    Kinda like what Issa been doing for the past year, "trump up charges, or make something up, to be sure DEMS lose the Commonwealth?" Your hypocrite plain and simple.

    July 17, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. Malory Archer

    Sheila

    So, it is close to the 2014 elections – duh! What is the real truth? Governor McDonnell has done a wonderful job for Virginia but, of course, the liberals must stop Cuccinelli, right? How better than to trump up charges, or make something up, to be sure Repubs lose the Commonwealth? Even if the governor didn't announce the extra funds, it is nothing compared to other things happening! VOTE Cuccinelli!

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    That's right Sheila, it was a "librul" conspiracy that made mcdonnel do it! The "libruls" set him up, and being the fallible human being that he is, he couldn't resist. That being said, what other things are happening with him that make this REAL SCANDAL "seem like nothing"?

    July 17, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  19. Mack

    Cuccinelli's hands are dirty too.

    July 17, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. Marty, FL

    @Sheila,
    Are you for real? In case you missed it, McDonnell's own GOP are trying to disown him, desperately claiming this is somehow not the politician they once knew.

    Cuccinelli is sadly involved in the same immoral greed from the unethical donor.

    July 17, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    "McDonnell, who was under consideration last year as a potential running mate to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney – and who many considered would make his own run for the White House in 2016 ... "

    Try as hard as he will, McDonnell is going nowhere beyond Virginia politics. It is going to be a long, long time before America ever elects another southerner as President of the United States, be they Republican or Democrat. For that, GOPers can thank the TeaPer courted.... [ fill in the blank ].

    July 17, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. Just a thought

    So, it is close to the 2014 elections – duh! What is the real truth? Governor McDonnell has done a wonderful job , right?

    -----

    Love those probes huh Sheila? He and the Cuch have nailed the woman vote in so many ways.

    July 17, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |