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Poll: Half of Virginians approve of Youngkin, but majority disagrees with several of his policies

The poll came over two weeks into the General Assembly session, where Virginia lawmakers are contemplating bills on hot-button issues.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A new poll from The Wason Center shows that half of Virginians approve of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, but a majority disagrees with several of his major policies and proposals.

Between Jan. 13 and 23, the center interviewed 1,038 Virginians about different topics, including Youngkin's performance and presidential aspirations, retail marijuana sales, environmental policy, taxes, abortion and education.

The poll's release came over two weeks into the Virginia General Assembly session, where state lawmakers are contemplating bills on hot-button issues, many of which the survey touched upon.

The poll was released Friday and has a 3.8% margin of error. Here's a breakdown of what The Wason Center found.

Half of Virginians approve of Youngkin, but most don't want him to run for president

The poll found that Youngkin’s job approval stands at 50%, while 36% of people disapprove of his performance and 14% said they don’t know.

83% of Republicans and 54% of independents approve of him, while 74% of Democrats disapprove.

When it comes to the political direction of Virginia, 45% said the state is headed in the right direction, while 37% said the wrong direction and 11% have mixed feelings.

How Virginians feel about the state's direction differs between Republicans and Democrats, with 67% of Republicans saying the state is heading in the right direction, compared to 23% of Democrats and 47% of independents.

Despite Youngkin's approval, 59% said he shouldn't run for president in 2024, while 29% think he should. Another 8% aren't sure, while 5% said they don’t know. 

Among Republicans, 46% support a Youngkin presidential run, while 38% don't like the idea.

Plurality doesn't want changes to abortion laws

Most Virginians said abortion laws should stay the same as they are right now (43%), while 29% support less restrictive laws and 23% support more restrictive abortion laws.

Youngkin has pushed for banning abortions at 15 weeks with exceptions for protecting the life of the mother, rape and incest. Likewise, several bills in the current General Assembly would enact more restrictions on the procedure.

RELATED | Democrats in the Virginia Senate defeat bills limiting abortion access

When looking at the issue among party lines, the poll found that 45% of Democrats and 46% of independents want to keep the laws the same, compared to 39% of Republicans.

44% of Republicans said they want more restrictive abortion laws, compared to only 1% of Democrats and 26% of independents.

The Wason Center also found differences based on gender, with 75% of women saying they either want abortion laws to remain as is (45%), or less restrictive laws (30%).

68% of men said they support leaving laws as is (41%) or want less restrictive ones (27%).

Over 60% support staying in RGGI, keeping Clean Economy Act

Despite Youngkin's attempt at withdrawing the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the poll found that 66% of Virginians support staying in the program, compared to 24% against and 10% unsure.

A plurality of Republicans support staying in the program (42% to 40%), while a majority of Democrats (92% to 4%) and independents (62% to 29%) support it.

RELATED | Virginia air board takes step toward withdrawing state from RGGI

62% of Virginians also support the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a 2020 law requiring electric utilities to produce 100% of their energy from renewable resources by 2050. 33% of those polled oppose this law, while 6% don't know.

Retail marijuana sales, casinos have majority support

60% of Virginians support allowing retail sales of recreational marijuana in the state, compared to 34% opposed and 6% who don't know. 

Support is stronger among Democrats (73% to 21%) and Republicans are split (44% support to 47% oppose).

On the heels of the opening of Rivers Casino Portsmouth, the state's first permanent casino, the poll found that Virginians support allowing any interested localities to host casinos if voters approved of one in a referendum (55% support to 38% oppose).


Mixed reactions to Youngkin's tax proposals

The poll found that a slight plurality of Virginians support Youngkin's proposal to lower Virginia’s top individual income tax rate from 5.75% to 5.5% (48% support, 43% oppose and 9% don’t know).

A majority of Virginians don't support the governor's proposal to cut the state's corporate income tax rate from 6% to 5% (57% oppose, 37% support and 6% don’t know).

RELATED | Youngkin budget proposal: another $1 billion in business, income tax cuts

Nearly 3/4ths say country is moving in wrong direction

Only 19% of Virginians said they think the United States is headed in the right direction, compared to 73% percent who said the wrong direction. 6% have mixed feelings and 2% said they don’t know.

38% of those polled said they approve of President Joe Biden's job performance, compared to 57% who disapprove and 5% who said they don’t know.

Plurality approve of Virginia's K-12 public schools

When it comes to grading Virginia K-12 public schools, 41% of Virginians give schools an A or B grade, while 28% give a C, 13% a D and 9% an F.

When asked about the nation’s public schools, only 13% give an A or B grade. Most of those polled gave public schools outside of Virginia a C (39%), D (20%) or F (15%).

59% said parental approval should be required for K-12 students wanting to be referred to by pronouns and names different than what's on their birth certificate, compared to 36% who said it shouldn't be required and 2% who are unsure.

Youngkin reacts to poll results

Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said the governor's approval ratings are outperforming Biden's "because he’s delivered on his promises."

"With $4 billion in tax relief for Virginians, the largest K-12 education budget in Virginia’s history and key efforts like Operation Bold Blue Line to keep our communities safe - the governor has brought people together around commonsense solutions and delivered results," Porter wrote in a statement to 13News Now.

In response to the poll, a spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Virginia shared a statement that criticized Youngkin's proposals on abortion laws.

“With 72% of Virginians opposed to Governor Youngkin’s radical attempts to restrict abortion in the Commonwealth, it’s clear that the Governor is not putting the values of Virginians first," the spokesperson wrote. "We need a Governor who is willing to stand up and support the rights of Virginian women, not one who is busy trying to attract attention for his 2024 presidential bid.” 

The full results are available on The Wason Center's website.

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