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Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.

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Poll: Virginians dislike ultrasound, one-handgun a month bills, approval ratings for gov, legislature drop

Voter approval ratings for Gov. Bob McDonnell and the General Assembly have dropped in the wake of a contentious legislative session, according to a poll released this morning.

The polling group, Quinnipiac University, also found that voters disapproved of the bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before getting an abortion, and the bill repealing Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month law.

Both were passed in the legislative session and signed by the governor. The ultrasound bill was particularly controversial, earning Virginia mockery from late-night TV comedians and protests outside the Capitol.

According to the poll, Virginia voters dislike the ultrasound bill by 52 to 41 percent. Seventy-two percent said government should not make laws to try to convince a woman to change her mind about an abortion. Democratic and independent voters disapproved of the bill, while Republicans approved of it.

On the one-handgun-a-month bill, 53 percent of those polled preferred the old law, versus 40 percent who like lifting the restriction.

In the wake of the legislative session, voter approval ratings for the state legislature from a 47 percent positive rating in February to a 38 percent positive rating now. In February, Quinnipiac’s assistant polling director, Peter Brown, said Virginia’s legislature was the only one Quinnipiac surveys that had a positive rating. This poll is the first time the General Assembly has a negative grade.

“The fact that the legislature’s approval dropped so much, while approval ratings for other statewide elected officials are basically unchanged indicates that voter dissatisfaction is targeted,” Brown said in the poll’s press release this morning.

McDonnell’s approval ratings dropped too, although he still has a positive rating.

“The governor’s numbers are down, from a net positive 34 percentage points last month to a net 21 points today, but he’s still above the 50-percent mark,” Brown said.  “The controversy over the ultrasound and handgun bills would be a logical explanation for the decline in his approval rating, which had been above 60 percent for much of last year.”

U.S Sen. Mark Warner has the highest approval rating of statewide officials, at 62 percent. Sen. Jim Webb had an approval rating of 49 percent; Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling was at 36 percent; and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was at 45 percent.

Quinnipiac polled 1,034 registered voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

 

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