The View From Virginia: Approval of Political Leaders

September 8, 2021
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | US Politics | Virginia
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Though traditionally considered a swing state, Virginia has shifted towards the Democratic Party in recent years, with Joe Biden winning the state with a 10.11% margin in the 2020 Presidential Election. Both Senators are Democrats, as is Governor Ralph Northam, pointing to a Democratic swing in Virginia. 

The state’s Democratic leaning may contribute to the +7% net approval rating President Joe Biden currently enjoys in the state, with 48% approving and 41% disapproving of the President’s overall job performance so far.

That being said, there is significant political division on the matter. Amongst 2020 Trump voters, just 11% approve of Biden’s overall job performance, compared to 86% of 2020 Biden voters. In contrast, 83% of 2020 Trump voters disapprove of Biden’s overall record, of whom 61% strongly disapprove. The proportion of Trump voters who strongly disapprove of Biden is not matched by the number of Biden voters who strongly approve (39%) of their candidate’s performance thus far in his Presidency. 

Although almost half of Virginians approve of Joe Biden’s overall performance as President, his handling of the coronavirus pandemic is the only policy area in which his Administration receives majority approval. 54% of respondents approve of the Biden Administration’s handling of the pandemic, whilst 31% disapprove. Notably, 20% of 2020 Donald Trump voters approve of the Administration’s response to the pandemic, though 66% disapprove. A considerable 46% of all respondents approve of the Administration’s performance on the environment as well, compared to 30% who disapprove.

In other policy areas, the Administration’s performance receives more mixed responses. Respondents are divided between approving and disapproving when it comes to the Administration’s performance on the socioeconomic issues of housing (37% approve, 35% disapprove) and addressing unemployment (40% approve, 38% disapprove). On its overall economic performance, 43% approve and 38% disapprove of the Administration’s record.

Slim pluralities disapprove in the policy areas of crime/policing (43%), defence (41%), relations with China (39%), and relations with Russia (36%), while the Administration’s performance on immigration sees a considerable plurality of 47% disapproving as well—including 83% of Trump voters.

Similar to President Biden’s positive net approval rating, Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine both enjoy plurality approval from Virginians, too. 41% approve of both Mark Warner’s and Tim Kaine’s overall performance as Senators, respectively, while a slightly greater proportion disapprove of Kaine (34%) than Warner (30%). Similar majorities of 2020 Biden voters approve of Mark Warner (65%) and Tim Kaine (67%), while disapproval among 2020 Trump voters is just as high for Warner (61%) and Kaine (66%). 

Governor Ralph Northam also receives a positive net approval rating from Virginians, with 45% approving and 35% disapproving of Northam’s performance as Governor of Virginia. As a Democratic Governor, Ralph Northam elicits a significantly more favourable evaluation from Biden voters, 69% of whom approve of his performance, though the 21% of Trump voters who also approve is non-negligible.

In a matter of two months, Virginians will elect their next Governor in the November 2021 Gubernatorial Election, in which incumbent Ralph Northam will not stand for re-election, due to term limits. The election instead will be fought between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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