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Bob McDonnell approval dips, but Star Scientific scandal not a factor

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno,Polls,Ethics,Bob McDonnell

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's approval rating is at its lowest point in two years, but it's still at enviable heights, according to a new poll.

More importantly for the Republican leader, an FBI investigation into his family's relationship with embattled Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams is so far not a big deal in the minds of most Virginians.

A Quinnipiac University survey showed McDonnnell's approval rating at 49 percent, a 4 percentage point drop from 53 percent in March. But his disapproval rating, 28 percent, remains quite low for a governor whose last year in office features a federal probe and a large tax increase. McDonnell's approval rating never dipped below the 50 percent in the two years Quinnipiac has been polling in the Old Dominion.

Only 12 percent of respondents said the federal probe into McDonnell's dealings with Star Scientific are a "major issue," while 44 percent called it "just politics." The governor has faced criticism for not reporting that Williams paid for catering at the wedding of his daughter while he and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, promoted a Star Scientific supplement.

McDonnell as well as Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli have received thousands of dollars worth of gifts from Williams, whose company is suing the state over unpaid taxes.

More people could see the issue as problematic as they learn more about it. But so far, three-quarters of respondents said they knew very little or nothing at all about the controversy and 63 percent hadn't heard enough to say whether it's bad for the governor.

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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