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Poll: Virginians want stiffer immigration laws, Support UVA decision

Posted at 3:03 PM, Jul 18, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-18 15:03:07-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) – Most Virginians would support the Commonwealth implementing a more strict immigration policy, one similar to a controversial law put in place in Arizona last year.

In a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, Virginia voters said they would favor a law similar to the one requiring police officers to verify the legal status of someone they have already stopped or arrested if they suspect that the person is in the country illegally 62 to 34 percent.

The opinion split largely down party lines, with 91 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of independents and 35 percent of democrats favoring the law.

Last month the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling over the highly contentious law, striking down some portions–but leaving intact that immigration check mandate, widely considered to me the most controversial portion of the law.

Polled voters did, however, signal support for President Obama’s recently announced policy shift on young illegal immigrants. Last month his administration announced they would stop deporting young illegal immigrants who came to the country as children and allow them to obtain work permits. 53 percent of those polled said they supported the move and 40 percent said they were against it.

Again, the issue had a partisan split, with 80 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of Independents and 28 percent of Virginians backing the policy.

“Virginians, like voters nationally, have mixed feelings about immigration policy,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute, said. “They like President Barack Obama’s decision to exempt some younger illegal immigrants from deportation.  Yet, by almost two-to-one they would like the Virginia legislature to pass a law similar to the one in Arizona that the Supreme Court recently upheld.”

The poll also gauged public opinion on the highly publicized ousting, and ensuing re-reinstatement, of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan.  According to the survey, Sullivan came out the winner in the curt of public opinion, with 47 percent approving of the board of trustees decision to reinstate her, and only 7 percent disapproving.

Thousands of UVA students and employees held protests and rallies on campus last month when the Board of Visitors voted to dismiss Sullivan. After prodding from Governor Bob McDonnell, the board voted to re-instate her several weeks later.

However, it also appears most Virginians are not following the scandal closely, as 68 percent of voters surveyed say they haven’t heard enough about Sullivan to have an opinion of her. In the end she does come out with a positive approval rating, as 27 percent surveyed said they do approve of her performance, with only 3 percent disapproving.

Only 26 percent of those surveyed said the approved of the decision to reinstate Christine Dragas as the head of the school’s Board of Visitors after she resigned following the scandal. 23 percent disapproved, 51 percent remain undecided.

The public’s view of UVA seems to have been largely unaffected by the scandal, as 70 percent of registered voters surveyed said it has impacted their opinion of the institution.

“The UVA leadership soap opera played out with little impact on Virginia voters.  Among the voters who followed the drama, there was a public relations winner, Dr. Theresa Sullivan, and a loser, Helen Dragas,” Brown said.  “But for the most part the public’s view of UVA remains unchanged.  Gov. Bob McDonnell also emerged from the whole thing as a public relations winner for his handling of the controversy.”

The public seems to approve of the governor’s handling of the situation, giving him a 37 to 16 percent approval rating in reference to this case. His overall approval rating remains virtually unchanged from before the controversy, standing now positively at 55 to 19 percent.

The poll also gauged job approval rating for several other state-wide elected officials:

  • U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, 57 – 24 percent;
  • U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, 43 – 30 percent;
  • Lt. Gov. Gov. Bill Bolling,  36 – 19 percent;
  • Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, 44 – 31 percent,
  • The State Legislature, split 41 – 41 percent.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,673 registered voters between July 10 and 16, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.