Editorial – Proud Virginians; unhappy Americans

Published 3:40 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Virginians feel better about their state than their country.

That’s a reasonable conclusion to draw from a couple of recent opinion polls, including the latest survey by the respected Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University.

A plurality of respondents (45% to 37%) in the CNU poll said Virginia is headed in the right direction, while 50% approve of the job Gov. Glenn Youngkin is doing, even as they prefer he not run for president (59% to 29%). Youngkin did even better in a January poll by Mason-Dixon Polling Strategy, which put his approval rating among Virginians at 56%. 

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But Virginians are pessimistic about the direction of the country (19% right direction to 73% wrong direction, according to the CNU poll), and that dissatisfaction is reflected in President Joe Biden’s approval rating (38% approve to 57% disapprove). The Mason-Dixon poll put Biden at 45% approval, 52% disapproval.

CNU’s Wason Center conducted 1,038 interviews of Virginia registered voters, including 231 on landlines and 807 on cellphones, Jan. 13-23. The poll has a margin of error of 3.8%.

“Virginians are generally alright with the direction of the commonwealth, but have far more negative opinions regarding the direction of the country as a whole,” said Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, research director of the Wason Center. “Virginians give Gov. Youngkin solid marks as he enters his second year in office. Conversely, they see the nation as headed in the wrong direction and continue to be displeased with the president. And this same dynamic, which has been noted in prior polling, extends to education as well. Virginians are far more satisfied with their own local public schools than they are with the nation’s public schools in general.”

Some 41% of Virginians gave their local public schools an “A” or “B” grade in the poll, while only 13% graded national public schools that high. 

Two other interesting findings: Virginia voters support recreational marijuana sales (60%) and allowing any interested localities to host casinos should their residents approve one in a referendum (55%).