RICHMOND, Va. -- The majority of Virginians support the Virginia health commissioner's emergency statewide requirement to wear masks in K-12 schools -- 71% to be exact.
This is according to a new statewide poll conducted by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
The poll found 57% of Virginians would support a federal mask mandate to be worn indoors.
A large majority of Virginians -- 75% -- indicated they are concerned that new COVID-19 variants will lead to a worsening pandemic in their local community,
The poll featured landline and mobile telephone interviews from Sept. 7-15 with a representative sample of 811 adults living in Virginia. It has a margin of error of 5.35%, according to VCU.
There is a wide divide among Democrats, Republicans and independents on concern that new COVID-19 variants will lead to a worsening of the pandemic in their communities, with 93% of Democrats indicating concern, compared to 68% of independents and 58% of Republicans, according to the poll.
87% of Democrats are more supportive of a federal mandate requiring masks indoors than 24% of Republicans or the 60% of independents (60%).
White, non-Hispanic Virginians were less likely to support a federal mask mandate than minority and/or Hispanic Virginians -- 49% to 70%, respectively.
Female respondents were more supportive of a mask mandate than male respondents (62% to 51%).
Similarly, 94% of Democrats are also more supportive of the Virginia health commissioner’s recent mandate for masks in K-12 schools, compared to 43% of Republicans and 80% of independents.
Minority and/or Hispanic Virginians again were more supportive than white, non-Hispanic Virginians (83% to 64%).
The poll also asked about support for public funding to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Just under 1 in 5 Virginians are aware of how funding is provided to Virginia’s HBCUs. Among those who are, 73% approve of increasing direct public funding to the schools. Twenty-two percent of these respondents disapprove of direct public funding.
92% of Democrats are much more likely than Republicans (57%) to support increasing direct public funding to all of Virginia’s HBCUs among those who are aware of how public funding is provided.
“The polling as it relates to funding for HBCUs is not surprising. There has been little advocacy in Virginia relative to the historical inadequate funding and that in and of itself is inadequate,” said former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.
Of the poll respondents who felt they had enough information to comment on the $4.5 billion of COVID-19 relief funds received by Virginia from the federal government, just over half were aware that the money was allocated by the General Assembly without debate or public comment.
These same individuals were more likely to approve (65%) than disapprove (31%) of the way $3.5 billion of these funds were spent.
However, they were less likely to approve of the fact that the remaining $1 billion was allocated to Gov. Ralph Northam to spend at his discretion without debate or public comment (50% approve, 46% disapprove).