Governor Glenn Youngkin talks at the presentation of his energy plan in Lynchburg. Photo by Dwayne Yancey

Less than a month before the midterms, Gov. Glenn Youngkin has bumped up his approval rating among Virginia voters by almost 10 percentage-points since February, according to a new poll released Wednesday by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University.

Ten months into his four-year term, Gov. Glenn Youngkin gets a positive job approval from 50% of Virginians, while 40% disapprove and 9% indicate they don’t know, the poll found. In February, the same poll found the Republican’s approval rating underwater, with only 41% saying they approved of the job the governor was doing in his first month, and 43% indicated disapproval, while 16% said they don’t know.

However, a Wason Center poll from 2018 shows that then-Gov. Ralph Northam fared better than Youngkin in terms of public approval around the same time in his first year in office, with 59% saying they approve of the job he is doing, including 32% of Republicans, while 24% overall said they disapprove.

In general, Virginians are fairly split today on the state of the commonwealth, the most recent poll found. While 42% believe things are headed into the right direction, 40% don’t agree with this sentiment. In a highly divided political climate, differences are largely along partisan lines with 72% of Republican registered voters saying Virginia is heading in the right direction, compared to 20% of Democrats and 39% of independents. 

Compared with the poll from February, Virginians have become slightly more pessimistic about the future of the commonwealth. Back then, 45% said Virginia was headed in the right direction, while 41% said the wrong direction, mostly along partisan lines. 

Virginians also continue to be very pessimistic about the direction of the country with ongoing economic concerns amid intense partisan polarization. Only 22% of Virginia registered voters say the United States is headed in the right direction, compared to 65% who find the opposite. 

President Joe Biden, who is about to close out the second year of his first four-year term, gets a thumbs-up from just 39% for his job performance, while 56% disapprove, and 6% say they don’t know. 

Despite this pessimistic outlook, Virginia voters somewhat favor the Democratic Party on a generic ballot, which defies recent political history that has generally seen the incumbent Party face a growing unpopularity during an administration’s first midterm election.

 When asked which party’s candidate they are more likely to vote for in their district, 46% say the Democratic Party’s candidate compared to 40% for the Republican Party’s candidate; 5% say they will vote for another party and 9% say they don’t know. 

The poll also exposes some considerable partisan gaps among voters relating to specific issues such as climate change (Democrats 75% to Republicans 13%), the economy and inflation (92% Republicans to 59% Democrats), racial inequality (Democrats 77% to Republicans 28%), immigration (Republicans 71% to Democrats 43%), abortion (79% Democrats to 48% Republicans), gun violence (81% Democrats to 49% Republicans), crime (82% Republicans to 52% Democrats), and gas prices (76% Republicans to 33% Democrats). 

The closest level of agreement on issue importance is for education with 78% of Republicans indicating the issue is very important compared to 79% of independents and 74% of Democrats.

“The results of this survey point to the chaotic and uncertain nature of the upcoming midterm elections,” said Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, research director of the Wason Center. “While traditionally midterm elections are a referendum on the president and the state of the economy, the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and recent extreme weather events have energized Democrats around abortion and climate change.”

The results of this poll are based on 740 interviews of Virginia registered voters, including 291 on landline and 449 on cellphone, conducted Sept. 18 – Oct. 7, 2022. The margin of error for the whole survey is +/- 4.5%.

Find the complete poll here.  

Markus Schmidt

Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at markus@cardinalnews.org.