June 28, 2022

UMW Survey Shows Warner Leading in Senate Race

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Warner has the support of 47 percent of likely voters in this year’s race for the U.S. Senate, compared to 37 percent for Republican contender Ed Gillespie, according to a new survey sponsored by the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies.   Virginia-Politics_croppedRobert Sarvis, a Libertarian candidate who also is on the senatorial ballot, received six percent support among likely voters in the poll of 1,000 state residents conducted October 1 to 6. Another 10 percent declined to say which candidate they supported or were unsure. A total of 444 of those residents are categorized as likely voters in next month’s election based on their self-reported voting history and interest in political matters. Among registered voters, the margin between the two major party candidates was wider. A total of 50 percent of registered voters said they supported Warner and 30 percent backed Gillespie in the poll. Sarvis received the endorsement of six percent of the 819 registered voters in the survey. Among all residents surveyed, Warner was favored by a 49 percent to 26 percent margin, with six percent for Sarvis. If Sarvis was not on the ballot, 31 percent of Virginians who favored Sarvis said that they would not vote. Of those favoring Sarvis, 35 percent said Warner was the second choice and 35 percent said Gillespie was the second choice. More than half (53 percent) of likely voters said they did not know enough about Gillespie to offer an opinion about him, as compared to 21 percent who viewed him favorably and 23 percent unfavorably. For Warner, the ratings were 50 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable among likely voters, with 13 percent uncertain. Three-quarters of likely voters said they did not know enough about Sarvis to evaluate him, with five percent assessing him favorably and nine percent assessing him negatively. Another 10 percent of likely voters said they had never heard of the Libertarian, who received 6.5 percent of the vote in last year’s gubernatorial election. Mark Warner Ed Gillespie Robert Sarvis “The Senate race has gotten closer, and our poll shows that Republicans in Virginia are more likely to vote next month than the dispirited Democrats,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at UMW and director of the university’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “The main problem Gillespie has is that a lot of voters still don’t know much about him, and that problem can only be solved by a lot more money coming in from Republican donors.” Unfortunately for Gillespie, Farnsworth said, Republicans view several other Senate races, including those in Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and Alaska, as more competitive and are focusing the party’s resources in those states. In the overall survey, 36 percent said they were Democrats, compared to 25 percent who said they were Republicans. But 33 percent of the likely voters identified with Republicans, while only 30 percent of likely voters said they were Democrats. Among likely voters, Warner leads among women who expressed a candidate preference, 54 percent to 40 percent. Warner also has the edge among male likely voters, by a margin of 48 to 43 percent. Among likely voters, Warner has the support of 99 percent of the self-identified Democrats, while Gillespie has the support of 85 percent of the Republicans. Sarvis does best among the independents, with 19 percent of the voters in that category. Warner has 43 percent of independents as compared to 38 percent for Gillespie. For the full survey, see the Topline. Contact: Stephen J. Farnsworth at (703) 380-3025 or sfarnswo@umw.edu The Fall 2014 Virginia Survey, sponsored by University of Mary Washington (UMW), obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,000 adults living in Virginia. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (500, including 247 without a landline phone). The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviews were done in English by Princeton Data Source from October 1 to 6, 2014. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.5 percentage points. The margin of sampling error for the likely voters (N=444) is ± 5.3 percentage points.    

Virginians Favor Legalizing Medical Marijuana, UMW Survey Shows

By a margin of more than two-to-one, Virginians believe that the use of marijuana for medical purposes should be legal under federal law, according to a new survey sponsored by the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. Of the 1,001 state residents surveyed Sept. 25-29, 71 percent said that the use of medical marijuana with a prescription should be legalized, with 23 percent believing that it should remain illegal and the rest were unsure. In a recent poll, 71 percent of Virginians said that the use of medical marijuana with a prescription should be legalized. Image from istockphoto.com. Results from the same poll released earlier by the Center also showed that 42 percent of the likely voters in the upcoming Virginia election favor Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor, while 35 percent favor of Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The UMW survey also showed that, by more than 15-to-one margin, Virginians who have heard about the scandal involving Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and a wealthy donor believe that the governor, not the taxpayers, should pay for his legal defense. Virginia has not taken steps to legalize medical marijuana. The District of Columbia and Maryland, as well as more than a dozen other states, have approved their own medical marijuana laws. A proposed federal medical marijuana initiative has received little support on Capitol Hill. Responses to the questions varied greatly by age. Just over half (53 percent) of voters 65 years of age and older favored legalization of medical marijuana, compared to 71 percent in the 45-54 age group, 73 percent in the 30-44 age group, and 84 percent in the 18-30 age group. The question obtained majority support among all partisan groups. Among Republicans surveyed, 55 percent agreed with federal legalization of medical marijuana, as did 75 percent of independent and 80 percent of Democrats. Around the state, support for the measure was highest in Tidewater, with 79 percent support, and in Northern Virginia, with 77 percent support. In south central Virginia, the measure generated 72 percent support, compared to 68 percent in northwest Virginia and 57 percent in the state’s western region. No real gender gap is apparent on the question, with 73 percent of men and 70 percent of women favoring federal legalization of medical marijuana. Image from istockphoto.com. Among African-Americans, 79 percent favored the measure, compared to 70 percent of whites and Latinos. In the survey’s other policy-related findings:
  • By a margin of 53 percent to 41 percent, Virginians said the state should recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples who are married in a state where gay marriage is legal.
  • By a margin of 59 percent to 31 percent, state residents said the state should expand access to health care for low-income, uninsured state residents.  That proposal is part of the Affordable Care Act, though the law was not mentioned by name in the question.
  • By a margin of 52 percent to 42 percent, voters opposed a one-year increase in the normal retirement age, from 67 to 68, to help reduce the budget deficit. A two-year increase in the retirement age, to 69, was opposed by Virginians 59 percent to 38 percent in UMW’s March 2013 survey.
  • By a margin of 57 percent to 32 percent, Virginians said they favored a law that would tie the federal minimum wage to inflation. (The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.)
  • Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed said that they believed the economy has been getting worse over the past year, compared to 35 percent in UMW’s March survey. A total of 33 percent say the economy has been improving, the same as in the March survey.
  The Fall 2013 Virginia Survey, sponsored by University of Mary Washington (UMW), obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,001 adults living in Virginia. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (501, including 214 without a landline phone). The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviews were done in English by Princeton Data Source from September 25 to 29, 2013. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.5 percentage points. UMW Survey Topline For more information, contact Stephen J. Farnsworth at (703) 380-3025 or email him at sfarnswo@umw.edu.

Virginians Say Governor Should Pay Legal Bills, UMW Survey Shows

By a margin of more than 15-to-one, Virginians who have heard about the scandal involving Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and a wealthy donor believe that the governor, not the taxpayers, should pay for his legal defense, according to a new survey sponsored by the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. Two-thirds of the 1,001 state residents surveyed Sept. 25-29 said they had heard or read about the scandal, and of that group 85 percent said the governor should be picking up the tab, not the taxpayers. Five percent believed the taxpayers should pay, with the rest undecided. Results from the same poll released by the Center on Friday also showed that 42 percent of likely voters in the upcoming Virginia election favor Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor, with 35 percent in favor of Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The Virginia Governor's Mansion in Richmond, Va. Image from istockphoto. Two outside law firms hired by the attorney general’s office to defend McDonnell and other state employees over issues involving Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr. and a former Executive Mansion chef already have billed the state more than $240,000. Prosecutors have not yet said whether they will charge the governor over his financial dealings with Williams. The overwhelming citizen preference that the governor pays for his lawyers crossed party lines. Eighty percent of Republicans said that the governor should be paying the legal bills, compared to 84 percent of independents and 89 percent of the Democrats. By a margin of more than two to one, people who had heard about the scandal and had an opinion thought the governor was involved in wrongdoing (38 percent versus 15 percent). Nearly half of those who had heard about the scandal (46 percent) said they were not sure. A greater partisan gap was apparent on this question. Only 23 percent of Republicans thought the governor was involved in wrongdoing, compared to 35 percent of independents and 51 percent of Democrats. Overall, 42 percent of Virginians approved of the governor’s job performance, down from 52 percent in the March 2013 UMW survey. A total of 37 percent disapproved, compared to 26 percent in the March survey who were unhappy with McDonnell’s performance. The March survey was conducted shortly before the scandal first broke. Roughly one out of every four state residents (24 percent) thought the governor should resign over the matter, while 60 percent said he should remain in office. McDonnell, whose term expires in January, was not eligible to run for re-election this year because of term limits. Only 15 percent of Republicans said the governor should resign, compared to 20 percent of independents and 36 percent of the Democrats. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Courtesy of the Office of the Governor, Michaele White “The good news for the governor is that, despite the scandal, a significant number of state residents continue to think positively of him and many other Virginians have not made up their minds about what he has done,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at UMW and director of the university’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “The bad news for McDonnell is that the taxpayers really, really don’t like being stuck with the bill for the governor’s lawyers.” Farnsworth said that the results of the survey, conducted on the center’s behalf by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, provide further evidence that Virginia views its political leaders more favorably than residents of many other states. “Despite the scandal, McDonnell enjoys more positive assessments than do many other state governors,” Farnsworth said. Further details on the survey’s findings, including key breakdowns by factors including  age and region of residence, are found below. The Fall 2013 Virginia Survey, sponsored by University of Mary Washington (UMW), obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,001 adults living in Virginia. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (501, including 214 without a landline phone). The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviews were done in English by Princeton Data Source from September 25 to 29, 2013. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.5 percentage points. Governor Topline for UMW Survey, Fall 2013 Image from istockphoto.com. Should the governor pay? Support for the governor paying for the legal bills relating to scandal was widespread across all key groups of state residents. Among women, 88 percent thought he should pay, compared to 82 percent of the men. Regional differences also were modest. In Northern Virginia, 77 percent said the governor should pay the bill, compared to 90 percent in both the Tidewater and the state’s northwest region. In the south-central part of the state, which includes Richmond, 84 percent said he should pay, compared to 88 percent in the state’s western counties. Residents 65 or older were the least willing to insist that McDonnell foot the bill, but, even among that group, 78 percent thought he should pay. Residents between the ages of 30 and 44 were most insistent, with 90 percent expecting the governor to pick up the tab. Among African-Americans, 87 percent said he should pay, compared to 85 percent of whites and 83 percent of Latinos. Was there Wrong-Doing? One-third (33 percent) of Tidewater-region residents, a part of the state the governor once represented in the legislature, thought the governor was guilty of wrongdoing, compared to 34 percent in the western part of the state, 36 percent in Northern Virginia, 42 percent in south-central Virginia, and 47 percent in the state’s northwest. Older voters were most critical, with 45 percent of those aged 65 years or older believing that the governor was involved in wrongdoing, compared to 40 percent in the 45- to 64-year age group. The two youngest groups were the least critical, with only 24 percent of the residents under 30 years of age saying that McDonnell engaged in wrongdoing. The 30- to 44-age group also was less critical than older Virginians, with 36 percent saying that the governor engaged in wrongdoing. No gender gap existed on this question. Among both men and women, 38 percent said they believed there was wrongdoing by the governor, while 16 percent of the women and 15 percent of the men thought there was no wrongdoing. The rest were unsure. For more information, contact:   Stephen J. Farnsworth at (703) 380-3025 or email him at sfarnswo@umw.edu.

UMW Survey Shows Virginians Lean Toward McAuliffe in Governor’s Race

Democrat Terry McAuliffe has the support of 42 percent of likely voters in this year’s race for governor of Virginia, compared to 35 percent for Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, according to a new survey sponsored by the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. Terry McAuliffe. Courtesy of Terry McAuliffe for Governor. Robert Sarvis, a Libertarian candidate who also is on the gubernatorial ballot, received 10 percent support among likely voters in the poll of 1,001 state residents conducted during Sept. 25-29. Among registered voters, the margin between the two major party candidates was wider. A total of 43 percent of the registered voters said they supported McAuliffe and 33 percent backed Cuccinelli in the poll. Sarvis received the endorsement of nine percent of the 823 registered voters in the survey. Among all residents surveyed, McAuliffe was favored by a 39 percent to 31 percent margin, with nine percent for Sarvis. More than half (52 percent) of likely voters viewed Cuccinelli unfavorably, with 36 percent viewing him favorably. For McAuliffe, the ratings were 35 percent unfavorable and 38 percent favorable among the 559 likely voters in the survey. Ken Cuccinelli. Courtesy of the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia. The vast majority of likely voters said they did not know enough about Sarvis to evaluate him, with only seven percent assessing him favorably and five percent assessing him negatively. McAuliffe captured the endorsement of 81 percent of Democratic likely voters, while Cuccinelli had the support of 74 percent of Republican likely voters. Three percent of likely Democratic voters backed Sarvis, as did seven percent of likely Republican voters. The Libertarian did best among independents, winning the support of 19 percent of that group. Cuccinelli received the support of 34 percent of likely independent voters in the survey, as compared to 29 percent support among independents for McAuliffe. In the race for lieutenant governor, 39 percent of likely voters surveyed said they would back Democratic Sen. Ralph Northam and 35 percent expressed support for Republican E.W. Jackson. Among registered voters, the results were 40 percent favoring Northam and 32 percent supporting Jackson. The GOP fared best in the race for attorney general, where Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain received the support of 42 percent of likely voters, as compared to 36 percent who backed Democratic Sen. Mark Herring. Among registered voters, 38 percent supported Herring and 36 percent favored Obenshain. Republicans have won the last five elections for attorney general. Robert Sarvis. Courtesy of Robert Sarvis for Governor. “The results show that Virginia has three competitive statewide races this year,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at UMW and director of the university’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “In addition, the strong showing by the Libertarian candidate for governor in this survey adds to the challenges all the gubernatorial candidates face as they need to adjust their strategies to a three-way-race.” Farnsworth said that the results of the survey, conducted on the Center’s behalf by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, provide further evidence that Virginia will continue to generate significant national attention as the election approaches. “When Virginia campaigns are close, as these races are, we can expect lots of national interest in – and campaign cash for — political activities in the Old Dominion,” Farnsworth said. The survey also examined Virginia voter preferences among the potential candidates for president in 2016. Among the possible Democratic contenders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was favored by 32 percent of registered voters, with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia placing second with 18 percent support. Vice President Joe Biden was a distant third with eight percent support. Clinton, Warner and Biden also placed first, second and third in UMW’s March 2013 survey of registered voters. Among the other potential Democratic candidates, three percent of registered voters backed Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, two percent backed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and one percent favored Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. The poll examines Virginians' views by looking at the various regions of the Commonwealth. For the Republicans, 23 percent of registered voters in Virginia said they would back New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, as compared to 10 percent who would support former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, nine percent favoring Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and eight percent each backing Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who generated significant attention during his marathon filibuster last month, only received the support of five percent of registered voters in this potential GOP competition. Christie also led in the March 2013 UMW poll regarding the GOP candidate preferences of Virginia voters, with Ryan, Paul, Rubio, Bush and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell bunched further back. (The earlier survey was conducted before McDonnell’s financial controversy became public. He was not included in the latest list of potential GOP presidential candidates.). The survey also revealed declining popularity for President Obama in Virginia. Among registered voters, 46 percent approved of the job he was doing and 47 percent disapproved. In the March 2013 UMW survey, 51 percent approved and 44 percent disapproved. Further details on the survey’s findings regarding the race for governor, including key breakdowns by factors including party identification, age and region of residence, are found below. The Fall 2013 Virginia Survey, sponsored by University of Mary Washington (UMW), obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,001 adults living in Virginia. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (501, including 214 without a landline phone). The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviews were done in English by Princeton Data Source from September 25 to 29, 2013. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.5 percentage points. For the subsample of registered voters (N=823), the margin of sampling error is ± 3.9 percentage points. For the subsample of likely voters (N=559), the margin of sampling error is ± 4.7 percentage points. 2013 1003 UMW VA Survey Fall 2013_Election Topline The race for governor: Among likely voters, women strongly favor McAuliffe by a 48 percent to 30 percent margin for Cuccinelli, with nine percent of the women expressing support for Sarvis. For male likely voters, Cuccinelli had 41 percent support, compared to 36 percent for McAuliffe and 10 percent for Sarvis. Regional differences also were substantial. McAuliffe fared best in Northern Virginia, with the support of 55 percent of likely voters, as compared to 29 percent for Cuccinelli and six percent for Sarvis. McAuliffe also fared well in the Tidewater region, with 49 percent support, compared to 30 percent for Cuccinelli and seven percent for Sarvis. In south-central Virginia, which includes the Richmond area, Cuccinelli was favored by 35 percent of likely voters, as compared to 33 percent for McAuliffe and 17 percent for Sarvis. Cuccinelli was the strongest in the northwest region of the state, where he was support by 49 percent of likely voters, as compared to 29 percent for McAuliffe and 11 percent for Sarvis. In the state’s western region, Cuccinelli was favored by 42 percent, as compared to 34 percent for McAuliffe and 10 percent for Sarvis. McAuliffe was particularly strong among the likely voters under 30, winning 54 percent of their support, as compared to 24 percent for Cuccinelli and 17 percent for Sarvis. Older voters were more split: McAuliffe received 38 percent, compared to 32 percent for Cuccinelli and 14 percent for Sarvis in the 30-44 age group. The story was similar among likely voters between the ages of 45 and 64: 43 percent backed McAuliffe, 38 percent favored Cuccinelli and 8 percent favored Sarvis. Among likely voters 65 or older, McAuliffe had the support of 39 percent, versus 38 percent for Cuccinelli and 8 percent for Sarvis. Among likely voters who are African Americans, 79 percent supported McAuliffe as compared to six percent for Cuccinelli and one percent for Sarvis. Among white voters, Cuccinelli received 43 percent support, as compared to 34 percent for McAuliffe and 11 percent for Sarvis. Sixty percent of Latino likely voters said they would vote for McAuliffe, with 23 percent backing Cuccinelli and 13 percent favoring Sarvis. For more information, contact Stephen Farnsworth by cell at (703) 380-3025 or email him at sfarnswo@umw.edu.

UMW Survey Shows Virginians Favor Warner in 2014 Senate Race

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner would hold a commanding lead over Gov. Bob McDonnell if the two decide to face off in a U.S. Senate campaign next year, according to a new Virginia survey sponsored by the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies.

Warner received 51 percent support, compared to 35 percent for McDonnell, in the survey of 1,004 state residents conducted March 20-24. The remaining respondents were undecided or declined to answer the question. The margin of sampling error is 3.5 percentage points for the complete survey sample.

Data from the survey also includes Virginians’ views of key issues such as gay marriage, the federal deficit and the death penalty.

Warner, a former Virginia governor in his first term in the U.S. Senate, said recently that he plans to run for re-election. McDonnell, whose term-limited tenure as governor expires next January, is the strongest potential Republican challenger to Warner, should he choose to enter the race.

In the survey, McDonnell received 52 percent job approval, comparable to the figure he has received in other recent surveys. Only 26 percent polled say they disapprove of the governor’s job performance.

“The good news for the governor is that state residents continue to think very highly of him,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at UMW and director of the university’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “The bad news is that McDonnell is term-limited and the next statewide election – the 2014 U.S. Senate contest — doesn’t seem all that appealing.”

Despite the disadvantages McDonnell would face against Warner in a Senate contest, many Virginians see the governor as a potential president. While Virginians express the strongest support for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for the 2016 GOP nod, 12 percent of respondents identify McDonnell as their first choice, and another 10 percent rate him as their second choice. (The comparable numbers for Christie show 18 percent name him as a first choice and another 8 percent list him as a second choice).

Many Virginians also view Warner as presidential material, though he lags behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton among potential Democratic presidential candidates in 2016. A total of 18 percent rate him as their first choice and another 16 percent list him as their second choice for the nomination, far more than supported Vice President Biden. (The comparable numbers for Clinton show 38 percent favor her as their first choice and another 15 percent say she is their second choice.)

Farnsworth said that the results of the survey, conducted on the center’s behalf by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, provide further evidence that Virginia views its political leaders more favorably than residents of many other states.

“In these tough economic times, a lot of voters have turned on their elected officials, particularly governors,” Farnsworth said. “But Virginia’s last two governors currently hold the state’s two U.S. Senate seats and the current chief executive also continues to fare well in the court of public opinion.”

The survey also shows a dead-heat match in the November 2013 race to be the state’s next governor, with Democratic Terry McAuliffe receiving the support of 38 percent, compared to 37 percent for Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Further details on the survey’s findings, including key breakdowns by factors including party identification, age and region of residence, are found below.

Warner versus McDonnell

Warner’s substantial advantages over McDonnell in this hypothetical Senate match-up are seen across a variety of elements of the Virginia electorate. Warner is favored by double-digit percentage margins over the governor among men (52 percent to 40 percent, with the rest undecided) and women (56 percent to 34 percent).

Warner also is favored over McDonnell by very similar margins in all five regions of the state. In Tidewater, Warner’s advantage is 56 percent to 37 percent for McDonnell. Warner receives 54 percent support in both northern Virginia and in the western regions of the state, where McDonnell receives 37 percent and 39 percent respectively. Support for the incumbent in northwest Virginia is 53 percent, compared to 34 percent for McDonnell. In his worst region, Warner is favored by 52 percent of the respondents in south central Virginia, which includes the Richmond area, as compared to 36 percent who back McDonnell.

Voters aged 30 to 44 emerge as Warner’s strongest supporters, where he is favored by a margin of 59 percent to 31 percent. Close behind is the 45-64 age group, where the incumbent is favored by 57 as compared to 37 for McDonnell. Respondents under 30 years of age also favor Warner by a double-digit margin: 51 percent to 35 percent. In one of the few bright spots for McDonnell, both he and the incumbent register 46 percent among the high-voting group of residents at least 65 in age.

A great deal of partisan loyalty is evident for these two potential candidates. Warner receives the support of 93 percent of Democrats, with only 4 percent backing McDonnell. The governor fares well among GOP identifiers, winning 83 percent of them, while losing 10 percent of Republicans to Warner. Independents break for Warner by a margin of 51 percent to 33 percent, with the rest undecided.

African-American voters favor Warner by 90 percent, 7 percent of whom back McDonnell. Latinos favor Warner as well, by a margin of 57 percent to 28 percent. McDonnell has a narrow edge among white voters, by a margin of 47 percent to 44 percent (though the percentages were too close to be outside the margin of error).

McAuliffe versus Cuccinelli

Cuccinelli is strongest in western regions of the state, where 48 percent of respondents support him, and 38 percent support McAuliffe, with the rest undecided. Cuccinelli also does relatively well in south central Virginia, which includes the Richmond region, with 42 percent support. McAuliffe gets 38 percent support there.

The Democratic nominee does well in northern Virginia, where he receives 45 percent support, but Cuccinelli, a former state senator from Fairfax County, receives 41 percent support in Washington suburbs. In the state’s northwest, McAuliffe generates 43 percent support, while Cuccinelli receives 39 percent. Tidewater leans to McAuliffe in the survey, by a 43 percent to 36 percent margin.

A gender gap is not evident between these two candidates. Women support McAuliffe by a 41 percent to 39 percent margin for Cuccinelli, while men favor the Republican by a 43 percent to 42 percent margin.

So far, there are few partisan defections in this race. McAuliffe enjoys the support of 83 percent of the Democrats, with only 7 percent of them backing the attorney general. Cuccinelli enjoys the support of 87 percent of the Republicans, with only 4 percent backing the Democrat. Independents are basically split: 36 percent back the attorney general and 35 percent back McAuliffe.

 

The Virginia Survey March 2013, sponsored by University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,004 adults living in Virginia. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (502) and cell phone (502, including 245 without a landline phone). The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviews were done in English by Princeton Data Source from March 20 to 24, 2013. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.5 percentage points.

For more information, contact:  Stephen J. Farnsworth by cell at (703) 380-3025 or by emailing him at sfarnswo@umw.edu.

UMW Survey Shows Virginians Divided on Same-Sex Marriage

The question of legalizing gay marriage closely divides Virginians, according to data from a new survey of state residents sponsored by the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies.

The survey of 1,004 state residents, conducted March 20-24, shows that 45 percent support legalization of gay marriage, with 46 percent opposed. The remaining respondents were undecided or declined to answer the question. The margin of sampling error for the study is 3.5 percentage points.

The new UMW survey comes as the U.S. Supreme Court debates two gay marriage cases and as public opinion nationally has shifted in the direction of gay marriage. The UMW survey results represent significant gains for legalization of same-sex marriage in Virginia. In 2006, the commonwealth’s voters approved an amendment to the Virginia Constitution to ban gay marriage by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin.

“Rarely does public opinion shift on a social issue as rapidly as it has for gay marriage,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at UMW and director of the university’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “While opposition to gay marriage remains stronger here than nationally, the rapid erosion of that opposition among Virginians in the years since the 2006 amendment vote is astonishing.”

The results of the survey, conducted on the center’s behalf by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, provide further evidence that Virginia is a “purple” swing state in national politics, Farnsworth said. The survey also includes Virginians’ views of upcoming key state and national races.

While the study shows that Virginians are warming to the idea of same-sex marriage, support for conservative social policies – like the death penalty — remains strong. Sixty-five percent of the respondents support capital punishment, with 27 percent opposed. The remaining respondents are either uncertain or declined to answer the question.

“People who think Virginia is becoming another ‘blue-state’ like Maryland find little support in this study for that theory,” Farnsworth said. “The results here suggest Virginia’s continued independent stance, where the state’s largely moderate voters pick and choose among the policy positions they find appealing.”

An overwhelming majority of Virginians also support a path to legalization for illegal immigrants. By a margin of 71 percent to 25 percent Virginians support a government initiative to create a path to citizenship for workers currently in the country illegally.

Respondents turned thumbs-down on a proposed increase in the federal retirement age from 67 to 69 to reduce the federal budget deficit.

Further details on the survey’s findings, including key breakdowns by party identification, age and region of residence are found below.

Same Sex Marriage

Among those who answered the same-sex marriage question, the youngest Virginians show the most support, while the oldest residents mainly opposed. Among those between the ages of 18 and 29, 66 percent of respondents approved legalizing same-sex marriage, while 31 percent opposed; the rest were unsure.

The question also generated majority support in the 30-44 age group, with 54 percent supporting gay marriage and 42 percent opposed.  The two older age groups in the study were more critical: only 39 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 45 and 64 supported legalizing gay marriage, compared to 56 percent against it. For those 65 years of age and older, 29 percent supported and 65 percent opposed.

Substantial regional differences on the same-sex marriage question predominated. More than 59 percent of the residents of northern Virginia support legalizing gay marriage, with 37 percent opposed. Some 50 percent of the respondents from the Tidewater region support gay marriage, while 42 percent oppose. A plurality of voters oppose gay marriage in the three other parts of the state: Northwest (46 percent support/49 percent oppose), South Central, which includes the Richmond area (41 percent support/56 percent oppose), and the western portions of the state (31 percent support/65 percent oppose).

More women than men support legalizing gay marriage, by a margin of 51 to 43 percent.

One-quarter of Republicans support legalizing gay marriage, with 71 percent in opposition. For Independents, 53 percent support gay marriage and 42 percent object.  Democrats in the survey said they favor gay marriage by a 61 percent to 35 percent margin.

As a group, African-Americans were most critical of same sex marriage, with 40 percent supporting same-sex marriage legalization and 54 percent opposing it. Hispanic respondents were most supportive, with 64 percent supporting gay marriage and 34 percent opposing. For whites, 50 percent oppose gay marriage and 46 percent support it.

Just over one-third (35 percent) of Protestants supported gay marriage, as compared to 51 percent of Catholics.

Death Penalty

Comparisons among various groups of voters revealed capital punishment continues to receive widespread support across the commonwealth. By a margin of 74 percent to 59 percent, men are more willing to retain the death penalty than women.

A majority of respondents from all three partisan groups wanted to keep the death penalty, with 53 percent of Democrats supporting capital punishment, as compared to 69 percent of independents and 81 percent of Republicans. Just over half, 52 percent, of African-Americans support the death penalty, as compared to 54 percent of Hispanics and 72 percent of whites.

Respondents in all five regions of the state oppose ending the death penalty, with support for capital punishment ranging from a low of 59 percent support in northern Virginia to a high of 75 percent in the western part of the state. In the South Central region, which includes the Richmond area, 63 percent support the retention of capital punishment.

Retirement Age

On the question of whether the government should increase the normal retirement age from 67 to 69 to help balance the deficit, the biggest cleavages register among different age groups. Half of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 29 support the two-year increase, with 46 percent of the respondents in that age group opposed to it, and another 4 percent are undecided.

All the other age groups turned thumbs down on the proposal. For those in the 30-44 age group, the delayed retirement idea obtained only 36 percent support. Less than one-third (32 percent) of those nearing retirement (those in the 45-64 age group) favor an increase in the retirement age, while 38 percent of those 65 or older support increasing the retirement age to help reduce the federal budget deficit.

Another major difference in support for increasing the retirement age is regional: in Northern Virginia, the state’s richest region, 48 percent support a delayed retirement, while in the state’s poorer western region, only 29 percent want the retirement age increased. In the South Central region, which includes the Richmond area, 36 percent support extending the normal working years to help balance the budget.

Immigration

On immigration, 84 percent of Virginia Democrats express support for a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, as compared to 72 percent of Independents and 59 percent of Republicans.

The youngest group most favor creating a path to citizenship for those now in the U.S. illegally, with 83 percent of adults under the age of 30 expressing support. For the two middle-aged groups, 76 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 44 and 72 percent of those between the ages of 45 and 64 want government to develop a plan for eventual citizenship for those in the country illegally. Respondents at least 65 years old show more skepticism, but even a majority of seniors (52 percent) favor the initiative.

Support for immigration reform registered highest in northern Virginia, where 81 percent favor creating a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, and the lowest in the state’s western region, where only 57 percent support the idea. The South Central region of the state once again occupies the political middle ground, with 72 percent of respondents from the area supporting the idea of a path to citizenship for illegal citizens.

Note:

The Virginia Survey March 2013, sponsored by University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,004 adults living in Virginia. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (502) and cell phone (502, including 245 without a landline phone). The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviews were done in English by Princeton Data Source from March 20 to 24, 2013. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.5 percentage points.

For more information contact  Stephen J. Farnsworth by cell at (703) 380-3025 or by email at sfarnswo@umw.edu.