Poll shows McAuliffe approval rating at 44 percent

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Local,Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Less than three months into office, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's approval rating is at 44 percent, though a new poll shows 57 percent of Virginia voters say they are optimistic about the new governor's next four years in office.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows that 53 percent of voters think McAuliffe has strong leadership qualities but only 44 percent think he is trustworthy — the same percentage as the governor's approval rating.

"Gov. Terry McAuliffe's initial report card from Virginia voters is good, but not great," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "A plurality — but not a majority — approves of his early days in the governor's mansion and for the most part he gets similar ratings when voters are asked about his personal characteristics."

The new poll shows that 27 percent of voters want McAuliffe and the General Assembly's top priority for 2014 to be improving the state's economy and job market. Only 9 percent said the top priority should be health care, and just 4 percent said it should be Medicaid, the government-funded program that provides health care services for low-income residents.

McAuliffe and the GOP-controlled House of Delegates are at high-profile loggerheads over whether to enact a large-scale expansion of the state's Medicaid program.

The deadlock on the Medicaid issue has threatened a possible state government shutdown, as the House and the Senate are at odds as to whether Medicaid expansion should be included in the state's roughly $96 billion two-year budget.

The General Assembly adjourned earlier this month without passing a budget and returned briefly to Richmond for a special session on Monday.

The Quinnipiac poll shows public approval for the state legislature is at 37 percent, a five-point drop since September.

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