EDITORIAL: Proud Virginians; pessimistic Americans

Published 9:29 pm Thursday, March 2, 2023

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Virginians feel better about their state than their country.

That’s a reasonable conclusion to draw from a couple of recent opinion polls, including the latest survey by the respected Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University.

A plurality of respondents (45% to 37%) in the CNU poll said Virginia is headed in the right direction, while 50% approve of the job Gov. Glenn Youngkin is doing, even as they prefer he not run for president (59% to 29%). 

But Virginians are pessimistic about the direction of the country (19% right direction to 73% wrong direction), and that dissatisfaction is reflected in President Joe Biden’s approval rating (38% approve to 57% disapprove).

The Wason Center conducted 1,038 interviews of Virginia registered voters, including 231 on landlines and 807 on cellphones, Jan. 13-23. The poll has a margin of error of 3.8%.

“Virginians are generally alright with the direction of the commonwealth, but have far more negative opinions regarding the direction of the country as a whole,” said Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, research director of the Wason Center. “Virginians give Gov. Youngkin solid marks as he enters his second year in office. Conversely, they see the nation as headed in the wrong direction and continue to be displeased with the president. And this same dynamic, which has been noted in prior polling, extends to education as well. Virginians are far more satisfied with their own local public schools than they are with the nation’s public schools in general.”

Some 41% of Virginians gave their local public schools an “A” or “B” grade in the poll, while only 13% graded national public schools that high. 

Other interesting findings:

  • Virginia voters support recreational marijuana sales (60%) and allowing any interested localities to host casinos should their residents approve one in a referendum (55%).
  • Voters strongly support staying in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (66%), which Youngkin would prefer to abandon, and support the Virginia Clean Economy Act (62% to 33%).
  • Virginia voters also show support for requiring parental approval for K-12 students to be referred to by a different pronoun from their birth certificate (59% to 36%).
  • Virginians would prefer to keep state abortion laws as is (43%) compared to 29% who would prefer less restrictive laws and 23% who want more restrictive abortion laws. 
  • A plurality of voters support lowering Virginia’s individual income tax rate (48% to 43%), but Virginians strongly oppose a cut to Virginia’s corporate income tax rate (57% to 37%).