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Despite the perceived move to the right with the election of a Republican statewide ticket including the first GOP governor in 8 years – and a party takeover in the House of Delegates – Virginia is still a “purple” state on many issues. That’s what the latest Wason Center survey of 701 registered voters during a recent 2-week period seemed to indicate.

A strong majority of survey respondents support teaching how racism continues to impact society and oppose bans on teaching critical race theory; almost 60 percent said to spend budget surpluses on education, public safety and other services, rather than provide tax cuts or rebates. Another strong  majority said climate change should be a top priority. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo is research director for the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University:

(Wason Release) NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – As the 2022 General Assembly debates new laws and the state budget, Virginia voters support cutting the 2.5% grocery tax either by total repeal or granting a low-income tax credit, and they would spend the state budget surplus on education, public safety and social services, rather than return it to taxpayers, according to a survey by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University. Also, voters would require some professions to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but not students; favor action on climate change; oppose banning Critical Race Theory from schools; and oppose restoring restrictions on abortion.

Budget surplus: A majority of Virginia voters (59%) prefer spending the state budget surplus on education, public safety and social services, rather than providing tax cuts or tax rebates (38%).

Grocery tax: Voters overwhelmingly support cutting the 2.5% grocery tax, either by a total repeal (47%) or by giving low-income Virginians a tax credit (25%), while 24% of voters say keep the tax in place.

Critical Race Theory: Voters support teaching how racism continues to impact American society (63% to 33%) and oppose a ban on the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools (57% to 35%).

Masks and vaccine mandates: Virginia voters support vaccine mandates for first responders (58%), teachers (57%) and medical providers (61%), while opposing mandates for elementary students (55%) and middle school students (51%). On masks in schools, voters say health data should be used to determine mask requirements (56%) versus leaving the decision to parents (41%).

Police in schools: Voters strongly support stationing a police officer in every school (70%).

Abortion: A plurality oppose a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion (49% to 44%), while a majority oppose requiring an ultrasound (57% to 36%) and a ban on abortions at 6 weeks (58% to 33%).

Environment and energy: A majority of voters say climate change is already affecting Virginia and should be a top priority (34%) or a medium priority (32%) for the governor and General Assembly; 22% say it should be a low priority and 11% say not a priority at all. Voters support the state participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon cap-and-trade program (67% to 26%) and the Virginia Clean Economy Act (67% to 28%), a law requiring Virginia electric utilities to generate 100% of their power from renewable sources by 2050.

“It’s not surprising to see many Virginia voters say climate change should be a priority for their state government,” said Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, Research Director of the Wason Center. “Sea level rise, harm to ecosystems and extreme weather largely accord with scientists’ expectations of climate effects here.”

The results of this survey are based on interviews of 701 Virginia registered voters, Jan. 26-Feb. 15, 2022. The margin of error is 4.2%. The full report is attached and online at https://cnu.edu/wasoncenter/ .