Roanoke College poll reflects on 2020 election, COVID and more

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 4:33 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ/Roanoke College Release) - Just-released results of a new Roanoke College poll indicate widely divergent opintions about the state of Virginia and of the United States.

The poll indicates job approval for Governor Ralph Northam is 53%, the same as in August, while 33% disapprove of his performance. 53% of respondents think Virginia is headed in the right direction, but 37% think it is on the wrong track. Northam is viewed favorably by 43% of respondents and seen unfavorably by 31%.

54% of respondents say they have not very much or no trust at all in the mass media to report news fully, accurately, and fairly.

When it comes to national politics, according to the poll, Virginians are more likely to be worried (37%) than excited (22%) about the next four years in the country with more than one-third (36%) in the middle.

Residents of the poll are split when it comes to mail voting, with 45% favoring the idea for all elections and 47% opposing it. Regarding the November elections, Virginians think vote-counting across the country was very accurate (39%) or mostly accurate (25%), according to the poll, but 31% say it was not very accurate. Along the same lines, most respondents indicates all (41%) or most (24%) of the declared winners truly won the election, but 29% think only some were actual winners.

Respondents were asked about pre-election public opinion polling. 63% of Virginians have not very much or no confidence at all in the results reported, according to the poll, with only 9% reporting a great deal of confidence. Respondents were also more likely to say the polls favor specific candidates (47%) instead of trying to report findings accurately (41%).

53% of Virginians, according to the poll, disapprove of the way President Donald Trump his handling his job, while 35% approve. Trump’s favorable/unfavorable rating is 33%/53% while President-elect Joe Biden is at 46%/36%. 62% of respondents think the country is on the wrong track while 28% think it is headed in the right direction.

Questions were asked in the poll about COVID-19. 61% of Virginia residents, according to the poll, know people who have contracted coronavirus, up from 42% in August and 31% in May. Among those, 26 respondents (7%) had the virus themselves. 38% have had family members who were sick, and 56% have friends or relatives who had the virus. 68% of respondents are very or somewhat concerned that they or someone in their household will contract the virus.

49% of the respondents replied they would be slightly ill if they contracted the virus, while 16% think they would be very ill, and another 11% think they would be extremely sick and perhaps die. 10% think they would show no symptoms (within the margin of error from May and August). Of the 26 who had the virus, 17 said they were slightly ill, six were very ill, three were extremely sick, and one was asymptomatic.

Regarding when the virus may be contained sufficiently to return to “normal,” 42% of respondents think will be next year while 27% say it will be longer than a year.

49% of respondents think media coverage has made the virus seem worse than it really is. 33% think the coverage has been accurate.

48% of Virginians, according to the poll, think the response from state government has been appropriate, while 52% think the federal government’s response has not gone far enough. Some think the measures have gone too far (11% for federal and 21% for state). 44%) are more concerned the federal government will spend too little money to boost the economy, while 42% are concerned the government will spend too much money and increase the budget deficit.

Interviewing for The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College in Salem between Nov. 8 and Nov. 19, 2020. 601 Virginia residents were interviewed. Telephone interviews were conducted in English.

The landline sample, according to poll officials, consisted of random-digit numbers generated in proportion to the Virginia population. so all residential telephone numbers, including unlisted numbers, had a known chance of inclusion.  Cell phone samples were purchased from Marketing Systems Group. Cell phones comprised 56 percent of the completed interviews.

Questions answered by the entire sample of 601 Virginians are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus approximately 4% at the 95% level of confidence, according to poll officials. This means in 95 out of 100 samples, the results obtained should be no more than 4 percentage points above or below the figure that would be obtained by interviewing all Virginians who have a home telephone or a cell phone. Where the results of subgroups are reported, the sampling error is higher.

Read all the questions and results here.

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