Editorial – A politically diverse region

Published 7:47 pm Monday, November 28, 2022

The 13th annual Life in Hampton Roads survey by Old Dominion University contains some interesting insight on politics in Hampton Roads:

  • Political party affiliation among respondents to the survey continued to lean substantially toward the Democratic Party, in line with past surveys in Hampton Roads. Nearly 3 in 10 (27.7%) respondents said they felt closest to the Democratic Party when asked the question “Do you generally feel closer to the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, or do you consider yourself to be an independent or something else.” Some 16.3% identified with the Republican Party.
  • People were asked to describe their political views on a seven-point scale ranging from extremely liberal to extremely conservative. The results suggested that the region is quite balanced ideologically, with nearly equal numbers of liberals, moderates and conservatives. The largest group of respondents were those who said they were moderate (27.1%). The next largest groups were those who described themselves as liberal (16.1%) and conservative (15.4%). Overall, 31.6% of respondents described themselves as liberal (summing across the three liberal categories) and 31.1% described themselves as conservative. Roughly one in 10 respondents either refused to state their ideology (6.6%) or indicated that they did not know (3.6%).
  • Respondents’ views of President Joe Biden’s job performance were down from the 2021 survey, in line with changing national trends in his approval rating. The percentage who strongly approved of Biden’s job performance dropped by about 10 percentage points (from 14.7% to 4.3%), and the percentage who approved also dropped by more than five points (from 41% to 35.2%).
  • Opinions were mixed on Gov. Glenn Youngkin, with 43.7% approving or strongly approving and 34.9% disapproving or strongly disapproving. Since Youngkin received roughly 45% of the vote in the November 2021 gubernatorial election within the seven cities surveyed, his level of approval seems consistent with neither major gains nor losses in popularity for the governor at this point in his administration.
  • One of Youngkin’s signature actions — an executive order banning “inherently divisive concepts,” including Critical Race Theory, in Virginia public schools — wasn’t a hit in Hampton Roads. About one-third (32.9%) of respondents indicated that they approved or strongly approved of the order, but nearly half (48.7%) disapproved.