RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — New data shows Virginians are evenly divided about which party they want to see in control of the general assembly after the November elections.
The survey conducted by the University of Mary Washington polled 1,000 Virginia residents. It found that 40% of residents across the Commonwealth want Democrats in charge of the general assembly, with 37% favoring Republicans. The poll has a 3% margin of error.
The survey also found that abortion rights continue to be top of mind for many Virginians.
A majority of residents (53%) said the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will play a major factor in deciding who they vote for in Virginia’s legislative elections. Survey results showed that 21% said it would be a minor factor, and 20% said the decision would not be a factor in who they vote for.
“The reversal by the Supreme Court tends to be a very powerful issue in motivating voters even a year and a half later,” Professor Stephen Farnsworth, Director of the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, told 8News.
Furthermore, the survey results show 23% of Virginians think abortion should be legal in all cases, and 34% say it should be legal in most cases. Data found that 27% of Virginians want abortion illegal in most cases, while 8% want the procedure illegal in all cases.
Republicans have rallied behind Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed 15-week abortion ban, arguing that’s when a fetus can feel pain. Democrats say Virginia’s current law, allowing abortions through the second trimester — or through the third trimester if three physicians agree the life of the mother is at risk — should stay on the books.
“What you’re seeing from a number of Republicans is a pivot, even from things that they said two years ago, where now they are talking about a 15-week ban as the sort of movement in the pro-life direction that might be palatable to the voters,” Farnsworth said.
Meanwhile, on K-12 public education, nearly two-thirds (64%) of the 1,000 people surveyed said Virginia’s public school policies will be a major factor in deciding who they vote for.
The survey also found that 42% of voters want the governor to have less power to control education, while 21% want more power for the governor. In the minority, 19% believe Virginia should keep things where they are.
“I think the governor has been very effective in connecting with Republican voters in getting them energized talking about dissatisfaction with the current system of schools,” Farnsworth said. “But also, you will see there is a backlash on the Democratic side where a lot of Democrats are also worried about what is going on in the schools, but they tend to be more worried about the governor’s initiatives.”
Election Day is Nov. 7, with early voting already underway. The Virginia Public Access Project says as of Oct. 1, more than 77,000 Virginia had voted early.