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VCU Commonwealth Poll finds Virginians mostly positive about their personal finances

In anticipation of a new governor and upcoming General Assembly session, Virginians reported a mostly positive view of their personal financial situation and saw the status quo continuing for the state’s economy in the near future, according to a new Commonwealth Poll released today by VCU’s Center for Public Policy.

virginia-blue-oversizeA little more than half (53 percent) of respondents described their personal financial situation as excellent or good and 44 percent said that economic conditions in the state will be about the same a year from now.

Response varied by region, with Northern Virginia respondents offering the most optimistic view. More than one-third (38 percent) of Northern Virginia respondents said economic conditions in the state will be better a year from now and seven in 10 rated their personal financial situation as excellent or good. Those in the west and northwest regions had a very different view; almost one in three said economic conditions will be worse in a year and more than half rated their financial situation as only fair or poor.

Party affiliation also mattered in economic outlook. Republicans and those with a favorable opinion of the conservative tea party political movement were significantly more likely to think economic conditions would be worse a year from now, with 41 percent and 50 percent, respectively, holding that view. Democrats and minorities were more likely to hold an optimistic view, with 48 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of African-Americans thinking conditions would be better in a year.

“While much of the gubernatorial campaign was spent discussing reforming the public schools system and increasing access to health care, respondents felt that improving the job situation was more of a top priority,” said Farrah Stone Graham, Ph.D., assistant professor in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and director of the survey.

Seventy-three percent of respondents saw jobs as a top priority, while only about half said the same about reforming public schools and increasing access to health care (52 percent and 49 percent, respectively.) There were significant differences along party and racial lines regarding the importance of reforming public schools and increasing access to health care, with minorities and Democrats being more likely to see these as top priorities.

Respondents were also asked if they voted in the most recent gubernatorial election. Voters provided the main reason for selecting their candidate. Disliking the other candidate(s) was the most often cited reason, with 28 percent of respondents providing that answer. Among McAuliffe voters, the most common reason (cited by 36 percent of respondents) was a dislike of the other candidate. The main reason provided by Cuccinelli voters was his policy platform, with 31 percent providing that answer.

Respondents also rated Gov. Bob McDonnell’s performance and nearly half (49 percent) of respondents said he’s doing only a fair or poor job as Governor and 33 percent said excellent or good.

These findings are part of a statewide survey conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University. The poll was conducted by landline and cell telephone from Nov. 8 to Nov. 14 with a random sample of 801 adults in Virginia.The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

For a PDF of the 23-page report including complete question wording and detailed tables of results, see www.CommonwealthPoll.vcu.edu/poll_data.htm.

The Center for Public Policy is housed within the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.

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