L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

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Poll: Majority of Virginians support mask mandates

Virginians indicate concern that new COVID-19 variants will lead to a worsening pandemic. [View Image]
Virginians indicate concern that new COVID-19 variants will lead to a worsening pandemic.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
L. Douglas Wilder
Phone: (804) 827-0776
Email: ldwilder@vcu.edu
 
Robyn McDougle
Associate Dean of Research & Outreach
Phone: (804) 721-6703
Email: rdmcdougle@vcu.edu

Virginians indicate concern that new COVID-19 variants will lead to a worsening pandemic.

RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 27, 2021) — A large majority of Virginians (75%) indicated they are concerned that new COVID-19 variants will lead to a worsening pandemic in their local community, according to a new statewide poll conducted by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

On Aug. 12, the Virginia health commissioner issued an emergency statewide requirement to wear masks in K-12 schools. A majority of Virginians (71%) support this mandate. A smaller majority (57%) indicate that they would support a federal mandate requiring masks to be worn indoors. 

The poll featured landline and mobile telephone interviews from Sept. 7-15 with a representative sample of 811 adults living in Virginia. It has a margin of error of 5.35%.

There is a wide divide among Democrats, Republicans and independents on concern that new COVID-19 variants will lead to a worsening of the pandemic in their communities, with 93% of Democrats indicating concern, compared to 68% of independents and 58% of Republicans. 

“The polling as it relates to funding for HBCUs is not surprising. There has been little advocacy in Virginia relative to the historical inadequate funding and that in and of itself is inadequate,” said former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.

Democrats (87%) are more supportive of a federal mandate requiring masks indoors than Republicans (24%) or independents (60%). White, non-Hispanic Virginians were less likely to support a federal mask mandate than minority and/or Hispanic Virginians (49% to 70%, respectively). Female respondents were more supportive of a mask mandate than male respondents (62% to 51%).  [View Image]

Similarly, Democrats (94%) are also more supportive of the Virginia health commissioner’s recent mandate for masks in K-12 schools, compared to Republicans (43%) and independents (80%). Minority and/or Hispanic Virginians again were more supportive than white, non-Hispanic Virginians (83% to 64%). 

Support for public funding to historically Black colleges and universities

Just under 1 in 5 Virginians are aware of how funding is provided to Virginia’s historically Black colleges and universities (19%). Among those who are, 73% approve of increasing direct public funding to the schools. Twenty-two percent of these respondents disapprove of direct public funding.

Democrats (92%) are much more likely than Republicans (57%) to support increasing direct public funding to all of Virginia’s historically Black colleges and universities among those who are aware of how public funding is provided.

“The polling as it relates to funding for HBCUs is not surprising. There has been little advocacy in Virginia relative to the historical inadequate funding and that in and of itself is inadequate,” said former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.

Perceptions of state spending

Of the poll respondents who felt they had enough information to comment on the $4.5 billion of COVID-19 relief funds received by Virginia from the federal government, just over half were aware that the money was allocated by the General Assembly without debate or public comment (51%). These same individuals were more likely to approve (65%) than disapprove (31%) of the way $3.5 billion of these funds were spent. However, they were less likely to approve of the fact that the remaining $1 billion was allocated to Gov. Ralph Northam to spend at his discretion without debate or public comment (50% approve, 46% disapprove).

For the full poll results and analysis, visit https://oppo.vcu.edu/policy-poll/

 

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ABOUT THE L. DOUGLAS WILDER SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS

Ranked in the top 15 percent nationally among schools of public affairs, the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University advances excellence in governance and promotes evidence-based public policy in Virginia and beyond. The Wilder School offers an array of graduate and undergraduate programs in virtually every policy area including criminal justice, homeland security and emergency preparedness, public administration, public policy and administration, and urban and regional studies and planning. Additionally, the Wilder School is home to robust centers and institutes that provide applied research in the areas of state and local government, social equity, and leadership and a range of services to clients in state and local government, nonprofit organizations, businesses and the general public. Learn more at wilder.vcu.edu.

ABOUT THE VCU WILDER SCHOOL COMMONWEALTH POLL

For nearly three decades, the VCU Wilder School Commonwealth Poll has been an important bellwether for policymakers in Virginia and beyond on a range of topics, including voting intentions, economic and workforce development, education, housing, public health, public safety and racial equity. The Commonwealth Poll was featured 2020 Presidential Election Poll by CNN, approved based on a rigorous review of methodologies and assumptions that ensure that CNN-cited polling entities are employing the gold standard in public opinion research.

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