New Polling Suggests Public Concerns Changing

Last November Democrats stemmed a “Red Tide” by riding one major issue – the right of women to control their own personal and reproductive health. Polls and commentators generally agreed that the backlash against the fall of Roe v. Wade kept Democrats close in the U.S. House, and kept them in power in the U.S. Senate.

The power of the abortion issue to draw voters to the polls, however, may be waning here in Virginia.

On September 5, Founders Insight Public Policy Research, a right-leaning organization, released a poll showing that abortion was in second place as the issue most motivating voters. Yet, it was far, far behind inflation as the issue most concerning Virginians.

Of those surveyed, 24% said that inflation was their Number 1 issue. Abortion was named by just 15% of respondents.

This could be explained by the fact that because Virginia did not vote to immediately criminalize abortion – as did many states in the South and the Midwest – when Roe fell, people have had time to think about the current abortion laws and Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed compromise. The result, this polls suggests, is that Virginians are generally satisfied with the laws as they are.

Fully 38% of respondents, when asked “What position on abortion are you most comfortable with” responded favorably to the statement: “The current law in Virginia permitting abortion up until 26 weeks and at any time to save the life of the mother.” Another 26% responded favorably to this statement: “Legislators should work together to find a compromise that would permit abortions up to 15 weeks, when a baby can feel pain, with exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.”

That’s troubling news for Democrats in our area who – like Abigail Spanberger in 2022 – are making abortion a cornerstone of their campaigns. Joel Griffin, running to capture Senate District 27, has come out strong on the abortion issue, as he did recently on the New Dominion Podcast and in his debate with Ben Litchfield during the primaries.

Joshua Cole has also made abortion access a cornerstone of his campaign.

For Republican Tara Durant, who has made growing the economy a keystone of her campaign, this poll is good news. (Nota Bene – Griffin has also made economic growth a cornerstone of his campaign, as has Cole – though Cole has not pushed the issue as strongly.)

But not all is good news for Republicans.

Durant’s leading issue, arguably, has been the parents’ rights movement. But that issue is not sitting well with voters, either.

The Founders Insight polls shows just 7% of voters naming parents rights as the issue that motivates them.

‘It’s the Economy, Stupid’

Lest voters find this poll an outlier – and in some ways it is, because it’s a poll put together by conservatives with deep ties to the Youngkin Administration – take a look at the Wilder School Commonwealth Poll.

Released August 8, it finds that inflation was identified by 36% of those responded as the top issue driving their vote this November.

Trailing far behind inflation are education (18%), women’s reproductive rights (13%) and gun control (12%).

What makes the Wilder poll so interesting is the broad cross-section of Virginians that are deeply concerned about inflation and the impact it is having on them.

According to the report:

Some of the demographic groups most likely to cite inflation and the rising cost of living as the most important issue were Asian respondents (55%), those who completed some college but did not obtain a degree (53%), Independents (47%) and those ages 18 to 34 (47%). Black Virginians were the only demographic group that said an issue other than inflation is the most important issue facing Virginia, with a higher proportion of Black respondents citing education (28%), followed by women’s reproductive rights (21%) and inflation (20%).

Summing it Up

It’s still a long way to November, and voters’ opinions on political issues are notoriously difficult to discern.

But that two polls show a yawning gap between the top issue on voters’ minds – inflation – and everything else should serve as an indicator to candidates that Virginians are feeling the effects of long-term inflation and looking for some relief.

Former Gov. Wilder put it well:

I’ve always had a one-word definition for politics — money — and the people are likewise focused on inflation and the skyrocketing cost of living.


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by Martin Davis