(The Center Square) — A recent poll shows Virginians are evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats heading into the November elections.
Both parties are banking on education and abortion to win voters.
All legislative seats are on the ballot at the midpoint of Republican Glenn Youngkin’s four-year term. Redistricting has been completed, and some observers feel the state could be a litmus test for the nation ahead of 2024.
The poll, conducted by the University of Mary Washington Center for Leadership and Media Studies, shows Virginians favoring Democrats at 40% over Republicans at 37% in taking the majority of the Legislature. The number is evenly split at 42% among a subset of likely voters polled.
“Virginia has rapidly returned to its purple state status,” Stephen J. Farnsworth said in a release. He’s professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and the Center’s director. “This new statewide survey shows that Virginia’s voters are basically evenly divided as they approach the upcoming Virginia legislative elections.”
Republicans are banking on repeating their 2021 election success by focusing on parental rights in education. Youngkin hit the campaign trail earlier this week highlighting the Republicans’ agenda.
The governor attributed some of the GOP success to prioritizing parental rights in education, saying the party “provided multiple pathways in schools so parents have a choice and to put parents back at the head of the table.”
“What happened in 2021 set the stage for the work at hand. We swept statewide offices. We elected a majority in our House of Delegates,” Youngkin said.
Democrats are heavily betting on abortion being a driving factor for voters. Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC said Thursday it is contributing $140,000 in support of “key NOVA and Hampton Roads reproductive rights champions.”
“We know that we can win that fight if we elect pro-reproductive rights champions,” said Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates for Virginia. “Abortion is on the ballot, and we know Virginians have protecting their rights top of mind as they continue casting their ballots.”
The poll found that 64% of respondents agree that public education policies will significantly influence Virginia voters. The issue appears to be equally important among Republicans, Democrats and independents – with Republicans polled at 65% and Democrats and independents at 64%.
Abortion, another significant topic coast to coast, was another topic for respondents. Those saying it would be a major factor totaled 53%; 70% of Democrats, 35% of Republicans and 54% of independents say it will be a driving factor.
“Expect each political party to continue to talk past the other,” Farnsworth said. “Republicans will focus on perceived threats to parental rights in education, while Democrats will talk about what Republicans will do to further restrict abortion if they secure legislative majorities in Richmond.”
“The very close divisions among voter preferences in this survey demonstrate that both parties are largely evenly matched in Virginia right now,” Farnsworth said.
The poll surveyed 1,000 Virginia adults, including 771 likely voters. The margin of error on the total sample is +/- 3.0%. The margin of error on the Likely Voters portion of the sample is +/- 3.5%.