Voters split on Virginia’s ‘direction’ and most satisfied with COVID-19 school options, poll finds

Virginia voters are split along partisan lines on whether the commonwealth is moving in the right direction, according to a new poll conducted by Christopher Newport University.

And while most of the 906 registered voters are satisfied with Virginia’s COVID-19 school options, three out of four are worried their children will fall behind in school because of disruptions due to the pandemic.

The poll was taken after Election Day, between Nov. 8 and Nov. 22.

According to Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Civic Leadership, Virginia voters are evenly split about the direction of the Commonwealth (48% right direction, 47% wrong direction) and about how Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam is doing his job (47% approve, 46% disapprove).

The split runs along partisan lines with approximately nine out of 10 Republicans disapproving of the state’s and Northam’s direction, while nine out of 10 Democrats approve of Virginia’s and Northam’s direction.

Widening the question, to evaluate the direction of the nation, Virginia voters in the survey showed a marked shift compared to their responses prior to the November election.

Before Election Day, likely voters were very pessimistic about the country’s direction (76% wrong direction, 16% right direction).

In the recent survey, more voters still say the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction, but by a far smaller margin (49% wrong direction, 39% right direction). The difference between the assessments is almost entirely among Democrats, whose “wrong direction” assessment went from 97% to 22% after the election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

On the issue of COVID-19 and K-12 instruction, more than half of parents in the survey said their children are receiving online instruction only, a quarter are in a hybrid mode, 12% are receiving in-person instruction only and 3% are being homeschooled.

A majority of parents are either somewhat (40%) or very satisfied (24%) with the way their children’s school has been handling instruction during the fall semester, while the rest are not too satisfied (14%) or not at all satisfied (19%).

Despite the 64% overall satisfaction, 75% of parents are very concerned (53%) or somewhat concerned (22%) about their children falling behind in school as a result of pandemic restrictions.

“Parents are juggling work, caregiving responsibilities, and helping their kids through virtual school,” said Wason Center Research Director Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo.

“Most may believe their school systems are doing the best they can, but it’s no surprise that so many are worried about their children’s progress.”

Of the 906 registered voters interviewed, 371 were on landline phones and 535 on cellphones. The data was weighted on region, age, race, sex and education to reflect the 2020 population of Virginia’s voters.

The margin of error for the whole survey is +/- 4.7% at the 95% level of confidence. This means that if 50% of respondents indicate a topline view on an issue, there is a 95% confidence level that the population’s view on that issue is somewhere between 45.3% and 54.7%.

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