- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Nearly half of all Virginians approve of how Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is performing on the job, polling shows.

A poll from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Richmond’s Virginia Commonwealth University found that 49% of respondents approved of how the governor has handled his job, with 39% disapproving. Some 24% of Virginia voters strongly approve of how Mr. Youngkin is performing on the job and 25% somewhat approve, while 16% of people somewhat disapprove and 23% strongly disapprove.

Thirteen percent of respondents had no opinion or refused to answer about the governor, who took office in January. The poll had a margin of error of 5.81%.

The poll suggests the governor’s economic policies are driving his approval rating. A total of 58% of those polled supported his proposal to suspend the state’s gas tax for a three-month period, compared with 26% who were against it. 

The proposal was part of an amendment passed by the state’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates in June, but it was killed by the Democratic-controlled Senate. One Republican joined the slim Democrat majority in voting against suspending the tax in the face of soaring prices at the pump.     

An overwhelming number of people also support the governor’s decision to eliminate the state tax on groceries: Over 70% of respondents were in favor of chopping the tax, as opposed to 17% who backed keeping the tax in place. The 1.5% tax on food and personal hygiene products will be eliminated on Jan. 1, 2023.

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“The responses in the poll suggest what I have always stated: The people are always ahead of the leaders,” L. Douglas Wilder, who served as the state’s Democratic governor from 1990 to 1994, said in a release. 

Mr. Wilder said high inflation is why respondents were so receptive to the coming grocery tax cut and the proposed gas tax suspension. 

The poll also found that a majority of residents approved of partnering with colleges to establish lab schools that would provide instruction on new teaching methods (56% support; 24% oppose), and 79% support the state’s effort to fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

When it came to what to do about the state’s budget surplus, a plurality of respondents (47%) wanted to use it for welfare programs or state-funded clean energy projects, while 42% favored giving every taxpayer a $250 one-time rebate.

The differences in opinion fell along partisan and racial lines, according to Mr. Wilder. 

“The majority of Democrats and Independents prefer the option to use the tax revenue surplus for government programs (68% and 50%, respectively), while Republicans favor the $250 rebate option (62%); whereas Black respondents favor the $250 rebate (58%) and white respondents prefer the government programs (48%),” the former governor said.

The VCU poll consisted of phone interviews from June 30 through July 9, with a representative sample of 813 adult Virginia residents.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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