RICHMOND, Va. — Mitt Romney had a little trouble with women voters in Virginia, but a poll released Thursday shows Gov. Bob McDonnell is one Republican with no gender gap problem.
Quinnipiac University’s survey of 1,469 registered Virginia voters show that by nearly a 2-to-1 ratio, women hold a favorable opinion of the governor who’s already included in the buzz about potential 2016 GOP presidential prospects.
Exit polls from last week’s election showed women voters narrowly favored President Barack Obama in Virginia over the Republican.
Quinnipiac’s poll, conducted Nov. 8-12, found that among women respondents, 48 percent approved of McDonnell to 26 percent who disapproved. Fifty-nine percent of men had a positive view of McDonnell to 27 percent who did not. Overall, the governor’s approval rating stood at 53 percent.
McDonnell fared well among young voters 18 years old to 34, too. Forty-eight percent approved, and 24 percent disapproved.
Among black voters, who broke overwhelmingly for Obama last week, 41 percent approved of McDonnell, and 34 percent did not.
McDonnell’s results are uncommon among Republicans, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute.
“He is the only Republican officeholder in seven states surveyed by Quinnipiac University who get positive ratings from women — almost 2-to-1 in this case — and a plus score from black voters. A 2-to-1 approval rating among young voters doesn’t hurt,” Brown said.
The results also indicate that McDonnell does not share the disapproval many female voters felt toward Republicans in Virginia’s General Assembly after last winter’s divisive debate over a new law mandating pre-abortion ultrasound exams.
The law, which initially would have required vaginally invasive ultrasonic examinations, sparked several Capitol Square demonstrations involving thousands of people, most of them women. After television comedy shows, including NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” made Virginia a laughingstock over the legislation, McDonnell persuaded House and Senate Republicans to require only an external abdominal ultrasound exam, not an internal one.
Other findings from the poll:
— Respondents were split over uranium mining in the state with 41 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed. Proposals to mine a uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County provoked deep differences. Many fear its polluting effects, particularly in Southside Virginia and the Hampton Roads regions dependent on the Lake Gaston watershed for drinking water. Others contend it will provide jobs and make the nation less dependent on foreign energy. Among the legislature’s most weighty and emotional decisions next year will be whether to lift Virginia’s ban on mining the radioactive metal.
— Year-round public school is a bad idea, said 51 percent of those polled; 43 percent liked the idea. Voters with kids in public schools were about split on the proposal with 50 percent in support and 47 percent opposed. College-educated respondents supported all-year school 50 percent to 44 percent.
— Forty-nine percent felt it should be easier to fire public school teachers while 42 percent did not. The poll found a wide partisan split with 63 percent of Republicans liking the idea and 60 percent of Democrats opposing it.
— Tolls on parts of Interstate 95 south of Richmond is a non-starter with 57 percent of those surveyed while 38 percent support it. Asked whether they’d prefer tolls or higher gasoline taxes to pay for the repair and upkeep of roads, however, 56 percent preferred tolls to 32 percent who preferred to pay at the pump.
— Forty percent disapproved of privatizing the operation of Virginia’s sea ports compared with 34 percent who approved.
The poll’s margin of sampling error was plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
Besides Virginia, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac also conducts regular polling in Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.