newsvcu poll less than half of virginians approve of gov youngkin as governor

VCU Poll: Less than half of Virginians approve of Gov. Youngkin as governor

Gov. Glenn Youngkin
Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Photo courtesy Office of Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

In a new Commonwealth Poll conducted by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, only 49 percent of those polled reported approval how Gov. Glenn Youngkin is handling his job as governor.

The approval was primarily split by party and region, but support for a gas tax holiday, ending grocery tax, funding HBCUs and new lab schools is strong across all demographics.

According to poll results, Virginians strongly support policies that would have or will provide fiscal relief.

“The grocery tax proposal is very receptive; gas tax suspension and/or stipend is greeted positively, which can be viewed as a direct response to rising inflation,” said L. Douglas Wilder, who served as the 66th governor of Virginia.

  • 58 percent of respondents supported Youngkin’s proposal to suspend the state motor vehicle fuels tax for three months
  • One out of every two respondents supported eliminating the state’s portion of the grocery tax
  • The majority of democrats and independents prefer the option to use the tax revenue surplus for government programs
  • Republicans favor the $250 rebate option
  • Black respondents favor the $250 rebate
  • White respondents prefer the government programs
  • 79 percent of respondents support efforts taken by the Youngkin administration to fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • 55 percent support a recent state law permitting the establishment of college partnership laboratory schools in Virginia. The schools will be privately run and publicly funded to encourage innovation in teaching methods and instruction.
  • 47 percent of respondents supported using surplus tax revenue on government programs such as welfare initiatives or state-funded clean energy projects compared to returning the surplus to taxpayers in the form of $250 rebates to individuals

“Not surprising, but most appreciated, is the overwhelming public approval and support for increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities; this should increase support in the General Assembly, especially with the attorney general’s recent opinion that removed long manufactured legal constraints to proper and deserved funding for Virginia’s HBCUs,” Wilder said. “Over half of poll respondents support lab schools, indicating Virginians are looking for alternative educational options to what is currently being provided.”

Additional results of the poll can be found below:

  • Gas tax: More than half of Virginians support the elimination of the state motor vehicle fuels tax, also known as the gas tax, for a three-month period (58 percent). Although support was higher than opposition regardless of political party, Republicans (69 percent) and Independents (58 percent) were more likely to support than Democrats (49 percent). The elimination of the gas tax was particularly popular among Black respondents, with 76 percent supporting its elimination.
  • Grocery tax: Also very widely supported, 7 out of 10 Virginians support the elimination of the state portion of the grocery tax in Virginia. As with the gas tax, although support is high regardless of party identification, democrats (60 percent) were slightly less likely to support the measure compared to republicans (79 percent) and independents (76 percent). Respondents living in Northwestern (87 percent) and Western Virginia (80 percent) had the highest likelihood of supporting the grocery tax elimination.
  • Use of surplus tax revenue: Virginians were fairly evenly split on what to do with surplus tax revenue in Virginia — 47 percent prefer the surplus be used for government programs such as welfare programs or state-funded clean energy projects, whereas 42 percent prefer that the surplus be used to give every Virginia taxpayer a one-time rebate of $250. There was a large divide by party identification in respondents’ preferred options. The majority of Democrats and Independents prefer the option to use surplus for government programs (68 percent and 50 percent, respectively), while 62 percent of Republicans favor the $250 rebate option. Support for each option also differed by race — Black respondents favor the $250 rebate (54 percent), whereas white respondents prefer the use of surplus towards government programs (48 percent).
  • Lab schools: Over half of poll respondents (56 percent) also support allowing the establishment of college partnership laboratory schools in Virginia, which will be privately run and publicly funded to allow for innovation in teaching methods and instruction. There were no major differences across key demographics.
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Almost 8 in 10 Virginians (79 percent) support efforts to fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Despite high support among all political parties, democrats were much more likely to support these efforts with 94 percent supporting compared to 69 percent of republicans; 80 percent of independents also support the efforts. Black respondents also had a higher likelihood of supporting than their white counterparts (96 percent versus 78 percent, respectively).

The Commonwealth Poll featured landline and mobile telephone interviews from June 30 through July 9, 2022, with a representative sample of 813 adult Virginia residents. It has a margin of error of 5.81 percent.

For the full poll results and analysis, visit

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.