I’m not surprised to see Virginia governor Bob McDonnell doing rather well in the Washington Post’s poll. The budget is balanced, state taxes have not gone up, the unemployment rate is the ninth-lowest in the country, and the state’s job creation is doing a little better than the national average.
A Virginia Republican looks at today’s poll numbers and tells me:
A 62 percent approval rating — that’s the highest of any elected official in Virginia. And here is what is truly remarkable about that very high number. Look at how heavily Democratic the sample is! Voters in this poll self-identified as 31 percent Democratic, 36 percent independent, and only 22 percent Republican. (Another 7 percent indicated “other” and 4 percent said, “no opinion.”) That is an extremely low percentage of Republican voters for a state in which the congressional delegation consists of 8 Republicans and 3 Democrats; has a GOP governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general; and a House of Delegates that is 60 percent Republican. Further, it is worth noting that for their poll on the governor the Washington Post polled ‘voting-age Virginians’, not registered voters or likely voters, but any adult Virginian.
(My understanding is that polling adults is normal for a “job approval” poll, because you don’t have to be a registered or likely voter to have an opinion on how how a governor or other elected official is doing their job. But for a head-to-head matchup in an election year, you would want to narrow your sample, preferably to likely voters.)
For what it is worth, on Election Day 2009, the Virginia electorate split 33 percent Democrat, 30 percent independent, 37 percent Republican.