The economy has ranked as the number one issue facing the state of Virginia as voters cast their ballots in the tight race for governor, with the coronavirus pandemic and education lagging behind.
In the race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, 34% of voters in Virginia said the economy and jobs were the biggest problem facing the state. Seventeen percent name COVID-19 and 14% choose education, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of voters.
Healthcare (7%), climate change (7%), racism (5%), immigration (5%), abortion (5%) and law enforcement (4%) were all lower level issues.
Tuesday’s election is the most closely watched and competitive competition since President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump last year, and is widely seen as an indicator of voters’ mood ahead of the election. midterm next year.
Here’s a look at who voted and what matters to them, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 2,500 voters in Virginia for the Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago. .
IS VIRGINIA’S ECONOMY RISING OR GROWING?
Youngkin, a former private equity executive, often said during the campaign that Virginia’s economy was “in the ditch,” but a majority of voters disagreed. are poor.
Youngkin argued that Virginia’s record budget surplus was the result of over-taxation as he campaigned on a promise to enact substantial tax cuts.
McAuliffe countered that the surplus was due to strong economic growth under Democratic leadership and argued that Youngkin’s opposition to abortion rights and the conservative stance on LGBTQ issues would hamper efforts to recruit new businesses. within the Commonwealth.
As the cost of goods rises, about two-thirds of Virginia voters in this year’s election say their families’ finances are holding up. That’s a similar percentage compared to voters in last year’s presidential race.
Another 16% say they are making progress financially, while about as many – 18% – say they are falling behind.
DECISIVE SCHOOL DEBATE FOR MANY
Schools have become a major focus of the governor’s race for Youngkin, which has spotted a nationwide debate after McAuliffe said in a debate that parents shouldn’t “tell schools what they should. teach”.
A quarter of Virginia voters say the debate over teaching critical race theory in schools was the most important factor in their vote for governor, but a similar percentage identified the debate over handling COVID -19 in schools as the most important.
More voters said the Virginia public school system focused too much, not too little, on racism in the United States, 43% versus 32%. Another 24% said the focus on racism was about right.
Most voters say they think racism in the United States is a serious problem, but less than half (44%) rate it as “very serious.”
About 6 in 10 Virginia voters support both the mask mandates for teachers and students in K-12 schools and the vaccine mandates for teachers.
MORE INDECISION THAN 2020
About 6 in 10 voters say they knew from the start who they would support the governor’s race. In last year’s presidential race, three-quarters of Virginia voters said they knew from the start who they would support, though just about as many have decided in recent days.
About 3 in 10 voters now say they made a decision during the campaign. About 1 in 10 people said they were still deciding in the past few days.
MCAULIFFE GOT MORE BLAME FOR ATTACKS
Most voters believe the gubernatorial campaign involved unfair attacks by at least one candidate, but voters are slightly more likely to say that only McAuliffe attacked Youngkin unfairly than vice versa. . Almost 2 in 10 voters say the two attacked each other unfairly.
CONTINUING SCEPTISM ABOUT COUNTING THE VOTES
Although Virginia has not encountered any major issues with its vote count in 2020, only about half of Virginia voters are “very confident” that the votes in the governor’s election will be counted accurately. 3 other voters in 10 are “rather confident”.
Yet confidence is higher among voters today compared to voters in last year’s presidential election: only 25% then said they were very confident the votes would be counted accurately.
MAJORITY ABORTION RIGHTS
A majority of voters in Virginia – about 6 in 10 – say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 4 in 10 say it should be illegal in all or most cases.
Even so, a majority of voters fall in the middle, supporting abortion in some cases but not all – a third of voters say abortion should be legal in most cases and on this subject many say the abortion should be illegal in most cases.