Popular McDonnell becoming attractive VP choice

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Local,Virginia,David Sherfinski
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has a much higher approval rating than his GOP counterparts in other swing states like Florida and Ohio -- putting him in a strong position for a would-be vice presidential pick in 2012.

McDonnell had an overall job approval rating of 55 percent, while 26 percent disapproved of his performance, according to a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University.

Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said Virginia's fiscal situation is better than that of many other states and that bodes well for the Republican governor.

"The fiscal hole on a per capita basis has been deeper in other states compared to Virginia," he said. "If voters think [governors are] being fair -- and they do -- that's key."

Indeed, 53 percent of voters polled in a May survey disapproved of the way Ohio Gov. John Kasich was handling the state's $56 billion two-year budget, which is up for final approval this week. And in another May poll, voters, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, disapproved of the way Florida Gov. Rick Scott was handling that state's budget. Lawmakers there approved one last month that eliminated nearly 4,500 state government positions.

New Jersey voters, by a similar 2-to-1 margin, said bombastic Gov. Chris Christie, a rising star in the GOP, would not make a good vice president, according to a Quinnipiac poll released earlier this month.

Virginia voters approved, 50 percent to 34 percent, of McDonnell's handling of Virginia's budget. McDonnell has said that the state is in line for another surplus once the fiscal 2011 books close on June 30.

More than three-quarters of Republicans approved of McDonnell's job performance, and the governor enjoyed a 59 percent approval rating among ever-coveted independents -- numbers that potential GOP presidential nominees will likely keep a close eye on when perusing potential running mates who can deliver battleground states.

McDonnell has consistently batted away talk of a vice presidential pick, but longtime Virginia political analyst Bob Holsworth said McDonnell's still definitely in the running.

"You have to run a silent campaign for the vice presidency -- you can't be open about it," Holsworth said. "At the moment, he has too much going for himself not to be considered."

dsherfinski@washingtonexaminer.com

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