Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Poll: Virginians like McDonnell, dislike I-95 tolls
A new poll out today shows Virginia voters aren’t huge fans of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plans to put tolls on I-95 between Fredericksburg and the North Carolina line.
In the Quinnipiac University poll, 52 percent of those polled said they think putting tolls on I-95 is a bad idea, compared to 42 percent who like the plan.
However, given the choice between tolls and an increase to Virginia’s gas tax, those polled chose tolls, 60 to 28 percent, as long as the toll money goes to maintain Virginia roads.
“Virginians aren’t hot on the idea of tolling portions of Interstate-95, but they sure like the idea of tolls better than higher gas taxes,” said Peter Brown, assistant director at the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “In these days of political polarization, it’s worth noting that there are very little differences among Democrats, Republicans or independents on this issue.”
The August earthquake in Louisa forced the North Anna nuclear plant to shut down, but when asked if that affected their feelings about the safety of nuclear power, 52 percent of those polled said it made no difference. Thirty-eight percent said it made them more concerned about nuclear power. Seventy-one percent approve of using nuclear power for electricity, and 60 percent approve of building new nuclear plants for that purpose. Those numbers were lower among Democrats and black voters.
McDonnell himself has high approval ratings — 62 percent of those polled said they think he’s doing a good job, an increase from 55 percent in June. Not surprisingly, Republican voters had a higher approval rating for the Republican governor, but independents also gave him high marks, and 40 percent of Democrats said he’s doing a good job.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling has a 35 percent approval rating; Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is at 46 percent; U.S. Sen. Mark Warner has 61 percent and U.S. Sen. Jim Webb is at 51 percent.
Rep. Eric Cantor, R-7th, received a split rating — 23 percent favorable to 24 percent unfavorable — and 52 percent said they didn’t know enough about him to have an opinion.
Voters also gave the General Assembly decent marks; the legislature got a 47 to 35 percent approval rating, and is the only legislature in any state Quinnipiac surveys to get a positive rating.
In all, 66 percent said they’re somewhat or very satisfied with how things are going in Virginia, but they’re much less optimistic about the national scene; only 19 percent were somewhat or very satisfied with how things are going nationally.
“By more than 3-1, Virginians are happy with what’s going on in the state compared to the country and this optimism shows in their views of state politicians,” Brown said. “All statewide elected officials, and even the state legislature, get thumbs up for their job performance. In these tough times that is pretty remarkable.”
The poll was conducted from Oct. 3 to Oct. 9, and included 1,459 registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent.