A new Roanoke College poll found that 36% of Virginians think Gov. Glenn Youngkin should run for president while 54% do not. Photo courtesy of the governor's office.

About eight months into Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s term, his approval rating has increased slightly to 55%, from 53% in May, according to a new poll published Tuesday by the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College. Youngkin’s disapproval rating remains at 35%.

The small uptick comes from Republican sentiment, as approval among Youngkin’s own party is now at 86%, up from 75% in June, according to a news release from the institute. Youngkin’s favorability rating has also seen a modest increase since the previous poll, with a majority of Virginians (51%) now holding a favorable view of the governor, while 37% continue to have an unfavorable view.

Approval for President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has improved as well, up to 39% from an all-time low Roanoke College poll rating of 37% in June.

“The main ‘good news’ in this poll is that sentiment toward government officials and their job approval is up,” David Taylor, director of the institute and the Roanoke College poll, said in the news release. “The country may now be moving in a more positive direction based on what respondents say even though people are still not happy.” 

With speculation mounting about Youngkin’s potential presidential ambitions for the 2024 election, the poll for the first time asked voters about the governor and the national spotlight. The poll found that 36% of Virginians think Youngkin should run for president while 54% do not. Among Republicans, 49% feel that he should seek the party’s nomination. 

In an early contest for the GOP primary for president, 28% of Virginia Republicans would vote for Youngkin while 62% would vote for former President Donald Trump and 9% would vote for someone else or aren’t sure whom they would vote for. 

“While the Republican primary in Virginia for president is well over a year away, an early matchup between Governor Youngkin and former President Trump would be a landslide victory for Trump if Republicans in Virginia voted today,” Taylor said, adding that “just shy of a majority of the state’s Republicans even think that he [Youngkin] should run.”

The poll also asked Virginians where they stand on several other national issues. 

One month before the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, 35% of Virginians felt that abortion should be legal under any circumstance, 53% felt it should be legal under certain circumstances, and 11% believed abortion should be totally illegal. 

In the new poll, 40% of respondents in Virginia feel that abortion should be legal under all circumstances, while 48% believe it should be legal under some circumstances, and 10% favor a total ban on abortion.

On Russia’s war against Ukraine, 73% said they continue to follow the news either very or somewhat closely six months into the conflict, down slightly from 76% in May. Slightly fewer Republicans (70%) than Democrats (80%) follow the war that closely. Nearly the same percentage now (64%) as in May (66%) believe that the worst is yet to come. Democratic opinion on this is nearly unchanged from May, but now 58% of Republicans think the worst is in the future compared to 70% in May.

When asked about the general state of the country, 25% of respondents said that things are going in the right direction, up from 21% in May, while 72% replied that things have gotten off on the wrong track, down from 77%.  

As for Virginia, 51% say that the commonwealth is headed in the right direction, while 45% say we’re going in the wrong direction, relatively unchanged since May.  
For its poll, Roanoke College interviewed 640 adult residents of Virginia between Aug. 7 and 16. The survey has a margin of error of 4.5%. The complete results can be found here.

Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at markus@cardinalnews.org or 804-822-1594.