Fifty-six percent of Virginians approve of Republican Bob McDonnell's job as governor and 49 percent believe the Old Dominion is on the right track. That contrasts with a 47 percent average approval rating for President Obama and an average of 32.7 percent of Americans who believe the country is on the "right track."
Yet the Washington Post chose to spin the polling numbers as a negative, noticing a downward trend from previous numbers and attributing the shift to "a contentious legislative session that drew large protests and national ridicule to the state Capitol."
"The approval rating for McDonnell (R) dropped six points over the past year, from 62 percent to 56 percent. Thirty-five percent disapprove of the job he is doing — a nine-point increase from a year ago," staff writer Anita Kumar noted.
Yes, Kumar conceded, "The governor still has firmly positive ratings at a time of political discord nationwide. But he has lost support among independents and urban women after a 12-month period that closed with a partisan standoff over the state budget and an uproar over a bill requiring women seeking an abortion to first undergo a vaginal ultrasound."
Of course, it was the Democrats in the state senate who held up timely approval of the state budget, scuttling approval of the state spending blueprint three times before a lone Democratic senator crossed party lines to vote in favor of the budget. Democrats in the state senate had attempted to use the budget as a bargaining chip for more power in the evenly-divided state senate, which is presided over by the state's Republican Lieutenant Governor.
As to the ultrasound requirement, the Post's own polling shows that Virginia voters are roughly evenly-divided on the question with 51 percent opposing it, 46 percent favoring it and about 4 percent with no opinion. Keep in mind that the Post did its level best to scuttle the ultrasound requirement and that Post staffer Anita Kumar repeatedly failed to inform readers that Planned Parenthood clinics as a matter of course perform pre-abortion ultrasounds anyway. Also of note is that fact that the Washington Post editorial board has gone on the record opposing the compromise legislation that McDonnell ultimately signed.
"Republicans hope McDonnell, an oft-mentioned vice presidential contender, will help deliver Virginia in November, when the state will play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the presidential race and the balance of power in the U.S. Senate," Kumar noted.
But for all Kumar's spin about how McDonnell was souring on voters, the polls numbers themselves cut against the Post's desired pessimistic narrative (emphasis mine):
Fifty-two percent of women in Virginia approve of McDonnell’s job performance despite an 11 percentage point increase in his disapproval rating. Among independent women his disapproval jumped by 18 points.
More than seven in 10 independent voters, men and women, say that adding McDonnell to a national ticket would not affect their presidential choice — 8 percent are more likely to back Romney and 18 percent say it would push them toward President Obama.
Try as it might -- and our archive proves that they have -- the Post has a long way to go to take down Virginia voters' estimation of their successful conservative governor.