Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell remains popular in Virginia even after pushing through the General Assembly a large tax hike that angered many conservatives.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed 53 percent of Virginians believe McDonnell is doing a good job. Just 26 percent disapprove. That's well short of his high point -- 62 percent approval rating in October 2011 -- but in line with the governor's ratings since last July, and it's virtually unchanged from when the legislature first convened back in January.

McDonnell's popularity ranks only a few points behind Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who, as usual, was the state's best-liked politician.

Those popularity ratings are one reason Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is trying to mirror McDonnell and Warner's centrist, pragmatic approach in hopes of capturing moderates who voted for both. He points to a business background similar to Warner's and lauds McDonnell for working across the aisle to get things done.

"By definition, compromise is never perfect for all sides, but Gov. McDonnell, Lt. Gov. [Bill] Bolling, and Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly came together to make progress for Virginia," McAuliffe said of the governor's transportation package.

McAuliffe's opponent, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has distanced himself from a transportation package that was McDonnell's signature legislative achievement even while trying to cozy up to the governor. On Tuesday, Cuccinelli noted how he worked with McDonnell to shore up legal questions in the transportation bill, but by Wednesday, he was back to bashing it.

"We need more money in transportation, but this is just taxes," Cuccinelli told a Richmond radio show. "It's why I didn't support it before, it's why I don't support it now."