RICHMOND, Va. – A poll released after the first presidential debate assessed the political climate in Virginia between candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
The poll, by the Wason Center for Public Policy, attributed Democratic candidate Clinton’s lead in Virginia to her experience, but the poll still found that voters don’t trust her.
“Despite poor marks for honesty, Virginia voters are clear in their assessment that Hillary Clinton is far more qualified to be president than is Donald Trump,” said Dr. Quentin Kidd, Director of the Wason Center.
Clinton was viewed as more capable in many categories, except for economic questions – interestingly enough given Wall Street’s vocal skepticism of Trump.
The poll also found support among state voters for increasing the minimum wage to $15 and for Gov. Terry McAuliffe appointing Congressman Bobby Scott to the Senate seat until a special election in 2017, if Clinton wins.
Clinton has more experience and better temperament
Voter opinion among the over 1,000 people surveyed by the Wason Center is that Clinton is more qualified than Trump on many key issues, including many military and foreign policy issues.
Twice as many voters, 58-28 percent, say that Clinton, not Trump, has the right temperament to be president, and twice as many (60-26 percent) said that she, not Trump, has the right experience to be president.
Voters also think Clinton will have a better relationship with other countries than Trump (60-32 percent), will make a better leader than Trump (52-40 percent), will have a better relationship with Congress than Trump (56-33 percent), and will fight for the middle class more than Trump (46-38 percent).
However, by a close margin voters say that Trump is more trustworthy and honest than Clinton, 35-32 percent – with fully a third saying they did not know which candidate was more trustworthy or offering no response.
Trump beats Clinton regarding economic development
Clinton’s political experience only gave her a slight edge regarding who would be a better negotiator of trade agreements; Clinton edged Trump 49-46 percent.
Clinton’s decades of support for better healthcare was acknowledged among voters, who believe 56-35 percent, that Clinton could better address issues in the healthcare system.
But Trump bests Clinton on who would best promote economic development and jobs (49-44 percent) and on who would be better at reducing the budget deficit (45-42 percent).
Although, voters did believe Clinton would be more likely to fight for the middle class.
Foreign policy matters
On issues of foreign policy and the military, Clinton is seen as having a better grasp of national security issues than Trump (62-29 percent), being better able to handle terrorism threats than Trump (49-42 percent), and having a better understanding of issues facing active-duty military and their families than Trump (49-41 percent).
Voters think Trump would do more to help veterans than Clinton (47-44 percent).
Key areas of debate: TPP, minimum wage, Muslim ban
Voter positions on many of the key areas of debate so far in the presidential election align with Clinton more than Trump.
Virginia voters are strongly opposed to building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico (63-33 percent), strongly opposed to establishing a deportation force (63-31 percent), and strongly opposed to enacting a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country (65-31 percent).
By a slim margin, voters support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour (49-47 percent) and are evenly split on whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal should be rejected or not (31-31 percent).
Voters very strongly support improving relations with Russia, a position Trump has taken, 77-16 percent.
Regarding several other questions that will appear on Virginia’s ballot, voters are evenly split on whether to place the Commonwealth’s “right to work” law into the state Constitution, 39-39 percent.
In a generic congressional ballot, Democrats outperform Republicans 46-41 percent.
If Clinton wins the presidential election and Tim Kaine becomes vice president, 27 percent of Democrats want to see Governor Terry McAuliffe appoint Congressman Bobby Scott to the Senate seat until a special election in 2017; 26 percent are undecided.
The nearest second choice is Congressman Don Beyer, with 9 percent.
Scott has been in the 3rd District House seat since 1993 and served in the General Assembly before that.
“His support among Democratic voters in Richmond is more than twice his support in Northern Virginia, and in Hampton Roads it’s nearly four times as much,” said Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, Assistant Director of the Wason Center. “This is certainly a product of Scott’s long tenure in office.”
On the broad question of whether the country is on course, 55 percent of likely Virginia voters say it is moving in the wrong direction and 34 percent saying it is moving in the right direction.
However, they approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing, 54-43 percent.
Voters are extremely sour on the job Congress is doing, with 82 percent disapproval to 12 percent approval.
Virginia likely voters have favorable views of Senators Mark Warner (52-22 percent) and Tim Kaine (52-33 percent), but most don’t know enough about Congressmen Bobby Scott and Don Beyer to have a view.
Voters are sour on the Republican Party (60 percent unfavorable) and mixed on the Democratic Party (49 percent unfavorable).
They are mixed on the Libertarian Party (30 percent unfavorable) and Green Party (31 percent unfavorable), with significant numbers holding no view.
The survey was conducted Sept. 15-23 among 1,003 likely Virginia voters, with a margin of error of +/- 3.9%. In Part 1, released Monday, voters preferred Clinton, 48-38 percent, in a head-to-head contest with Trump. That lead changes when all five candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot are listed, though Clinton still topped Trump, 39-33.