Virginians reflect on elections, impeachment, storming Capitol, COVID-19 in new Roanoke College poll

Roanoke Valley News

SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — Roanoke College has conducted a poll looking at Virginians’ opinions regarding a variety of topics from politics to COVID-19.

Trump Impeachment
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

In the poll, half of the respondents think former-President Donald Trump’s actions were grounds for impeachment (50%), while one-third think they were improper but not impeachable (33%) and 13% think Trump did nothing wrong.

Half (50%) think Trump should have been convicted by the Senate while 44% agreed with the outcome.

The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research (IPOR) interviewed 596 Virginia residents between Feb. 14 and Feb. 27. The poll has a margin of error of + 4%.

Storming the Capitol

The poll shows a majority of Virginians (88%) think the anger that led to the protests was not justified at all; 53% think the protestors were mostly violent; and a large majority (84%) see those who stormed the Capitol as criminals.


Respondents were more likely to view the anger that fueled last summer’s social justice protests as fully (35%) or partially (37%) justified, and a large majority (91%) view the looting and destruction associated with the protests as being not at all justified.

November Elections

Virginians think vote-counting across the country was very accurate (43%) or mostly accurate (26%). However, 27% say it was not very accurate. Similarly, most think that all (52%) or most (20%) of the declared winners truly won the election, but 22% think only some were actual winners.

FILE – In this March 17, 2020, file photo, a voter casts his ballot during Florida’s primary election at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office in Orlando, Fla. Republicans in Florida are narrowing the voter registration gap with Democrats, underscoring the state’s status as a crucial battleground in November.(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

Just under half (47%) of Virginians approve of the way President Joe Biden is handling his job while 30% disapprove. A majority (59%) disapprove of the way Trump handled his job while just shy of one-quarter (24%) approve, which is the lowest approval rating in Trump’s term.

Biden’s favorability rating is at 47% while his unfavorability rating is 29%.

Trump’s favorability rating is at 24% while his unfavorability rating is 58%.

A majority of those responding to the poll (53%) say the country is on the wrong track while 39% say it’s heading in the right direction.

More than half of Virginians report not having very much trust in mass media to report the news fully, accurately, or fairly.

Gov. Northam and the Commonwealth
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam answers a question during a COVID-19-19 briefing at the Capitol in Richmond, Va, Wednesday Nov 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Gov. Ralph Northam’s job approval rating, according to the poll, is at 49%, while 33% disapprove of his performance.

Just over half (52%) of respondents think that Virginia is headed in the right direction but 40% think it’s on the wrong track.

A total of 41% of respondents view the governor favorably and is seen unfavorably by 31%.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is seen favorably by 21% while the same amount viewed him unfavorably, but nearly half (45%) declined to comment.

Political Anxiety

The poll indicates 79% of Virginians trust the federal government to do what is right only some of the time or never. A majority (52%) think that ordinary citizens can do a lot to influence the federal government and half (50%) believe their side is losing more than winning in politics today while 26% think they are winning more than losing.

FILE – In this file photo dated Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, a health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered in Fiumicino, near Rome’s international airport. The World Health Organization Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, granted an emergency authorization to the coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca, a move that should allow its partners to ship millions of doses to countries worldwide as part of a U.N.-backed program to stop the pandemic.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, FILE)

More than three-quarters (77%) of Virginians say they know someone who has contracted COVID-19 which has risen steadily from 31% back in May of 2020.

Among those who know someone infected, 10% had COVID-19 themselves while 40% had a family member who was sick and 43% have a friend or relative who has had the virus.

A plurality of Virginians (46%) thinks the response from the state government has been appropriate to slow the spread of the virus while 46% think the response by the federal government has not gone far enough.

Some believe measures have gone too far (13% for the federal government and 19% for state government).

“The biggest ‘takeaway’ in this poll is the continuing partisan differences. We continue to see most issues and questions break down along party lines. Some disparities are expected, of course, but some of the differences we see are quite large and suggest that there are two competing views of the state and the nation.”

Dr. Harry Wilson, Senior Political Analyst for the Roanoke College Poll

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