From the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University:
Poll details suggest bills’ fates in General Assembly, as voter coalitions on issues span party, age, race, gender
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The partisan and demographic breakdown of a poll of Virginia voters by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University provides insight into the status of proposals for gun control, local control over Confederate monuments, marijuana decriminalization and other bills at the midpoint of the 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly. Released today, the analysis by party, age, race, gender and other factors suggests whether selected bills are likely to pass or fail.
The pre-session statewide survey of registered voters showed pent-up demand for key elements of the new Democratic legislative majority’s agenda, on issues where broad voter majorities across partisan and demographic lines had been stymied when Republicans controlled the legislature. The detailed cross-tabs suggest why that demand is being met swiftly on some issues but not others. Here are some highlights:
- Gun laws test the limits of coalition. Universal background checks, a ‘red flag’ law and concealed carry restrictions are backed by a strong majority of voters in a coalition that crosses party, age, race and gender lines. But the coalition fractures over an assault weapons ban.
- General Assembly action so far suggests that proposals with a strong voter majority and broad coalition will pass, such as universal background checks, a ‘red flag’ law, a minimum wage hike, no-excuse early voting, marijuana decriminalization and redistricting reform. The clearest example, the Equal Rights Amendment, passed quickly already. However, proposals with a slim voter majority but a weak voter coalition, such as the assault weapons ban, falter.
- The proposal to give local governments control over whether to remove or alter Confederate monuments shows that partisan and ideological preference is always a strong legislative force, voter opinion notwithstanding. With no voter majority and no broad voter coalition but very strong support among majority party voters in the survey, the local control proposal will likely pass the General Assembly.
The 2020 General Assembly session reaches its virtual midpoint, or crossover, on Tuesday, when each house must complete action on its own bills, then take up bills passed by the other.
The full survey with detailed cross-tabs is attached. The Wason Center conducted 901 interviews of registered Virginia voters, Nov. 11-22, 2019. The overall margin of error is +/- 3.4 %, higher for subgroups.