New Poll Finds Virginians Support Health Care Repeal, Oppose Abortion Bans

New Poll Finds Virginians Support Health Care Repeal, Oppose Abortion Bans
New polling also shows Republican Ed Gillespie (left) and Democrat Ralph Northam maintaining a lead for their respective party’s nomination in the 2017 gubernatorial race.

A new poll highlights Virginian’s positions on several controversial issues — and the statewide political candidates they want to lead them.

The wide-ranging poll from Christopher Newport University, conducted Jan. 15-28, shows more than two-thirds of Virginians support Republican-led efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but a majority want the replacement in place before repeal. The same poll shows Virginians overwhelmingly support two major tenants of the act: coverage for pre-existing conditions and the ability for children to stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26.

“Virginians are mostly resigned to the fact that Congress is going to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” wrote Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of CNU’s Wason Center for Public Policy, which conducted the poll last month. “But they want the process to be orderly, with a replacement in place as the repeal happens, and they want to keep those popular parts of Obamacare.”

On social issues, Virginians oppose banning abortions after 20 weeks and are overwhelmingly supportive of statues ensuring government contractors offer protections for gay and transgender people they employ. By a narrow 45-42 margin, Virginians support requiring people to use bathrooms of their sex as identified at birth.

In the Commonwealth’s gubernatorial race, the majority of voters have no opinion leading up to the June primaries, but frontrunners for both major political parties have clearly emerged.

On the Republican side, former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie has a sizeable lead over his three opponents with 33% of the vote. The results follow several other recent polls that show the Gillespie leading state Sen. Frank Wagner (9 percent), Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart (7 percent) and Air Force veteran Denver Riggleman (1 percent).

For the Democrats, incumbent Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam leads former congressman Tom Perriello with 26 percent of the vote to 15 percent. Northam’s lead is notably small given that Perriello only recently the race and that Northam has held statewide office since 2013.

The poll showed a strong partisan divide on national politics. Virginia Democrats gave former president Barack Obama a 95 percent approval rating, while only 14 percent of Republicans gave him the thumbs up. When asked if they were optimistic about president Donald Trump, 89 percent of Republicans said yes while only 12 percent of Democrats said the same.

Overall, the majority of Virginians surveyed believed the Commonwealth is headed in the right direction, even if the nation isn’t. The poll found 53 percent support Virginia’s direction, but only 37 percent said the same for the nation as a whole. Conversely, 30 percent of respondents thought Virginia was headed in the wrong direction, while 52 thought the country was.

The poll is based on 1,002 interviews of registered Virginia voters, including 526 on landline and 476 on cell phone. The margin of error for the survey as a whole is +/- 3.2 percent.