Roughly one month into his first term, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s polling is underwater. The Republican appears to be out of step with a majority of voters on key issues, including school lesson plans and mask requirements.
Conservatives rallied around him during a campaign he focused on education issues, such as Covid-19 safety measures and classroom instruction on social inequality. The right touted his November election victory as a vehement denunciation of progressive politics.
But the data show a different picture.
Youngkin ascended to the governor’s mansion using thinly-veiled, racially coded conservatism he tried to mask with a sweater vest and a cheery attitude.
About 43 percent of voters disapprove of Youngkin’s job performance so far, compared to just 41 percent who approve and 16 percent of voters who are unsure, according to a poll released Monday by Christopher Newport University's Wason Center for Civic Leadership.
The data look even bleaker when you tease out voters’ views on Youngkin’s priorities.
Roughly 57 percent percent of Virginia voters oppose his promised public school ban on teaching about racial inequality — which he’s classified as critical race theory — while only 35 percent of Virginians support the ban, according to the poll. What's more, 63 percent of voters said they support teaching how racism continues to impact society, compared to 33 percent who oppose it.
That ought to be devastating news for Youngkin, who leaned heavily into white angst over discussions about racism in the run-up to election day.
The poll also found broad support for allowing health experts to drive the discussion about whether to enforce mask mandates in schools. Some 56 percent of voters think health data should determine mask requirements, with only 41 percent saying the decision should be left to parents.
That data comes roughly a week after Youngkin signed a law effectively banning mask mandates in Virginia public schools.
And while he has pushed to use the state’s budget surplus on steep tax cuts, the Wason Center poll found 59 percent of voters favor spending the money on education, public safety and social services. That’s compared to just 38 percent who want the money spent on tax cuts and rebates.
As Joy has discussed and I’ve written previously, Youngkin ascended to the governor’s mansion using thinly-veiled, racially coded conservatism he tried to mask with a sweater vest and a cheery attitude. But Virginia voters don’t seem to be falling for the act.