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Blue Virginia? Youngkin Approval Surges, and Things Are Looking Rough for Joe

AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

Virginia is a (formerly-red) blue state, which has not voted Republican in a presidential election in nearly 20 years.  And despite a few close calls, the GOP had been getting shut out of big statewide races post-2009 -- until, that is, Glenn Youngkin's ticket swept the top three offices in 2021.  That development represented a little better than a dozen-point swing away from Biden's ten-point victory margin in Virginia just one year prior.  Two years later, a new poll out of the Commonwealth shows how voters are feeling about Youngkin and Biden's respective leadership approach and results.  

The upshot is that the president is unpopular in the state he carried twice, while the governor has parlayed his narrow off-year win into a very strong level of satisfaction among the electorate:

A little over one year into his four-year term, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s approval rating is up by five points from late November, with 57% of Virginia voters saying that they approve of the way he is handling his job as governor, according to a new poll released Thursday by the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College. Youngkin’s disapproval is also down 6 points, from 41% from the previous poll, which was released in December, to 35% now. While the governor’s favorability rating is statistically unchanged, his unfavorable rating dropped 5 points to 35%, from 40% in December.  These numbers mark Youngkin’s highest approval rating and lowest unfavorable rating recorded by the Roanoke College poll during his time in office. 

More than one-third of Democrats approve of Youngkin's job performance, in addition to 87 percent of Republicans.  The state's 'right track/wrong track' number is well above water in the survey at (55/39), with nearly half of Democrats agreeing that Virginia is generally pointed in the right direction.  By contrast, the national right/wrong track numbers are abysmal, sitting at (26/65) on average.  In this Roanoke poll, President Biden's job approval is 38 percent, and his personal favorability is underwater by 15 points.  He trails Youngkin on head-to-head approval by nearly 20 points.  Most Virginia respondents told the pollster that they don't want want the governor to seek the presidency, but in the (unlikely, I'd say) event of a 2024 Youngkin-Biden national match-up, Virginians are currently heavily inclined to side with their governor against the incumbent:

That 16-point advantage is nothing to sneeze at, even if it's just a snapshot in time, testing a hypothetical scenario.  You'll note that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also leads Biden in Virginia, while the Democrat performs best (hitting 47 percent and leading) against Donald Trump, a fully known commodity whose poor favorability rating among Virginians was static in this survey.  Trump, however, leads the 2024 GOP pack in Virginia within this same data set:

The poll also asked Virginians who they would most prefer to be the Republican nominee for president. The poll provided a potential field of candidates including those who have officially announced, such as Trump and Nikki Haley, and candidates who have been speculated to run, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence. Among Republican respondents, the candidates they would most prefer to be the Republican nominee for president are Trump (39%) or DeSantis (28%), with all other candidates in the single digits. We also asked respondents who their second choice would be for the Republican nomination. Among Republican respondents, the popular second choices are Youngkin (25%), DeSantis (21%) or Trump (18%), with all other candidates again in the single digits.

In potential 2024 match-ups against Biden in the Commonwealth, Youngkin and DeSantis each hold substantial advantages among independent voters; Trump does not.  Youngkin has been doing a strong job as governor, leading as a conservative, but smartly picking his battles and pursuing a lot of non-partisan goals that attract wide appeal.  He has especially leaned in on education, taking the side of common sense and parents against scandal-plagued bureaucrats and school boards in deep blue counties.  It's working for him thus far, and he's not afraid to bring his message to forums not typically seen as friendly to Republicans.  On that score, I'll leave you with this:

Leftists are...not coping well:

Brain worms.

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