RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia voters slightly favor Democrats over Republicans on a generic ballot and are split on their top issues ahead of the midterms, a new poll shows, but most disapprove of President Joe Biden’s job performance.
The president’s approval rating is seen as a key indicator of how candidates may fare in congressional midterms.
With 56% of voters surveyed in the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University poll released Wednesday saying they disapprove of Biden’s performance, Democrats’ fight to keep the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to be an uphill battle.
Ninety-six percent of those who identified as Republicans said they disapprove of Biden’s handling of the presidency, with 59% of independents and 19% of Democrats saying the same.
While Biden’s approval rating hit 39% in the poll, half of the respondents said they approve of the job Gov. Glenn Youngkin is doing. Voters were split on the direction Virginia is heading, with 42% saying they think the commonwealth is moving in the right direction and 40% saying it’s headed in the wrong direction.
When asked which party’s candidate they would support on a generic ballot, 46% of Virginia voters said they would back the Democratic candidate in their congressional district and 40% said the Republican nominee.
The CNU poll found wide gaps in what Democrats and Republicans consider to be the top issues facing the country.
Three out of four Democrats surveyed said climate change was very important, compared to just 13% of Republicans. Nearly 80% of Democrats and 48% of Republicans said they believe abortion is an important issue.
On issues around the economy and inflation, 75% of respondents said they feel it’s very important. The vast majority of Republican respondents — 92% — said the economy and inflation are very important issues, compared to 59% of Democrats.
“The results of this survey point to the chaotic and uncertain nature of the upcoming midterm elections,” Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, the Wason Center’s research director, said in a statement accompanying the poll. “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.”
When asked what the most urgent issue facing the country was, 53% of Republicans said the economy and inflation, 11% said immigration and 7% said crime.
Democrats surveyed were more evenly split, with 17% saying climate change, 16% identifying racial inequality, 15% saying abortion and 14% calling the economy and inflation the most pressing issue in the U.S.
The poll of 740 registered voters in Virginia, conducted by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University over the phone from Sept. 18 to Oct. 7, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.