Poll: Virginia voters approve of Northam’s handling of pandemic, think restrictions ‘about right’

Voters in Virginia strongly approve of Gov. Ralph Northam’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, oppose requiring public schools to reopen and remain concerned that they or a close family member may contract the virus.

That’s according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll released this week.

Overall, Northam garners 2-to-1 approval from Virginia voters for his handling of the pandemic: 64% approve, 32% disapprove and 4% offered no opinion, in the poll.

The governor’s approval rating for dealing with COVID-19 is higher than his overall job approval rating of 56%.

Several months into the pandemic, a large majority of Virginia voters — 65% — say they remained concerned about themselves or a close family member contracting the virus that cause COVID-19. The poll found 27% of voters said they were “very” worried, and 38% of voters said they were “somewhat” worried. About 30% of Virginia voters said they were less concerned. About 18% of voters said they were “not too” worried, and 12% said they were “not at all” worried.

Democrats said they were more concerned about contracting the virus than Republicans: 82% to 51%. Among independents, 65% said they were worried.

In general, a majority of Virginians support Northam’s approach to dealing with the pandemic, including the coronavirus restrictions that limited capacity at businesses and shuttered others.

According to the poll, more than half of those surveyed — 53% — said they felt Virginia’s coronavirus restrictions were “about right.” A quarter of respondents said they felt the restrictions were not strict enough, and fewer than a quarter — 21% — said they felt they were too strict.

Well more than half of Virginia voters oppose requiring all public schools to reopen for in-person classes five days a week. In the D.C. area, most of the school systems in Virginia remain in remote-learning mode.

According to the poll, 59% of voters said they oppose a mandate requiring public schools to reopen; 35% said they supported such a move.

There is a partisan split on the matter: 85% of Democrats oppose the move while 65% of Republicans support it.

The poll was conducted by The Washington Post and George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government.

The poll was conducted via phone Oct. 13-19 and included a random sample of 1,109 adults in Virginia and a subsample of registered voters. About 71% of respondents were reached on cellphone, and 29% were reached on landline phones. The margin of error among registered voters is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, and among likely voters it is 4 points.


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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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