Wason Center Poll: Virginians split on which party they will support in November election

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Posted at 3:56 PM, Oct 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-17 17:20:35-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- A new poll from the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University shows Virginians split three weeks before the November elections when all 140 seats in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates will be on the ballot.

Of the 800 respondents, 42% of likely Virginia voters say they will support the Democratic delegate in their district compared to 41% who say they will support the Republican- well within the poll's margin of error of +/- 4%.

"What the poll doesn't do is to look at the six competitive races in the Senate or the seven or eight competitive races in that House and say what's going to happen there," said CBS6 Political Analyst Bob Holsworth. "But what it shows you right now is that the Democratic Party from 2016 to 2020 had a considerable advantage on Republicans, about four to six points, because of the unpopularity of President Trump. But what's happened in Virginia is that since the Afghanistan debacle, President Biden's numbers have been terrible in Virginia. In this poll, he's at 40 %. So he's a little bit of an anchor for the Democrats right now."

As far as the top issues driving voters, 41% of Republicans say the economy is the most important, while 25% of Democrats say abortion is.

On abortion, a majority of Virginians say abortion law should either stay the same (49%) or become less restrictive (23%), while 24% say Virginia should make the law more restrictive.

"If this election is about abortion, then the Democrats are going to win," said Holsworth. "You see, 70 % of the public is saying, by and large, that they don't want further restrictions. I'm sure that's the case in most of these competitive districts."

"Republicans have floated the idea of a 15-week abortion ban as a compromise," added Holsworth. "The poll's author said there was 'a small majority' against it. It wasn't small. It was 54-39 that was against it. So that's not really working. The key for the Republicans, I think, are these issues about inflation, the economy, taxes. Are they going to motivate voters or at least prevent Democrats from being excited about coming out for these races?"

55% of Virginians approve of the job Governor Youngkin is doing, while 41% approve of President Biden.

A majority of likely voters (58%) are satisfied with their school and as far as parents' rights, so-called book bans are deeply unpopular: 83% of Virginians say a parent should not be able to have a book removed from the library if other parents like the book.

Holsworth says if Republicans can keep the focus on inflation and the economy and President Biden's unpopularity, that shifts momentum their way.

"I think what you find is that that's going to damage Democrats among independent voters," said Holsworth. "Then the question is, will low-income voters in a place like Petersburg, that has a very competitive house race, will they come out, or are they just fed up with all political figures right now? That's going to be very important to the extent that inflation impacts or doesn't impact the turnout."

You can view the entire Wason Center Poll, here.

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