CHARLESTON — A new poll shows that even with the increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, voters still support Gov. Jim Justice’s pandemic response. It also found a majority of voters support vaccine choice versus mandates.
The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce commissioned a poll through Virginia-based North Star Opinion Research. The poll surveyed 600 registered voters between Sept. 7-9 via live phone calls. Quotas were set by age, gender and county according to the number of voters in each county. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percent. Women were more likely to say it was a problem than men, with 90% of women saying it was a serious problem compared to 70% of men.
When asked if they agree that the COVID-19 pandemic and the delta variant are a serious problem in their communities, 80% of respondents said it was a very or somewhat serious problem while 18% said it was not a serious problem. Based on political affiliation, 76% of Republicans, 77% of independents, and 94% of Democrats said it was a serious problem.
Justice’s overall approval numbers remain high, with 59% of respondents approving and 31% disapproving. Republicans approved of Justice 69% to 23%, with independents approving 57% to 31% and Democrats approving 47% to 44%. According to the poll, 64% of respondents approve of Justice’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to 31 percent who disapprove. A majority of respondents across three categories of voters approved of Justice’s pandemic response — 67% of Republicans, 66% of independents and 57% of Democrats.
When asked about hospitalizations in their area, 51% said hospitals are reaching full capacity and 28% said there are still plenty of hospital beds. In a memo to the Chamber of Commerce, pollsters Whit Ayres and Jon McHenry said the numbers remained constant when broken down by communities. A majority of West Virginia voters expressed pessimism about the future of the pandemic, with 57% of respondents saying the worst is yet to come and 33% saying the worst is behind the state. Women were more pessimistic, with 67% saying the worst is yet to come, while 49% of men said the worst is yet to come. Democrats were the most pessimistic at 77%, with independents at 54% and Republicans at 47%.
When asked about vaccination status, 69% of respondents said they have received one of the three available COVID-19 vaccines. According to the most recent vaccine numbers from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, nearly 60% of eligible West Virginians were fully vaccinated. Broken down by political affiliation, 63% of Republicans said they were vaccinated, 66% of independents, and 90% of Democrats. “That is higher than the general population because … voters skew older than the entire population,” Ayres and McHenry wrote. “The primary driver of vaccination status is the perceived seriousness of the pandemic: 87% of voters who think COVID-19 and the delta variant are a serious problem in their community are vaccinated, compared to 56% who think the pandemic is somewhat serious, and only 36% who say it is not too serious.” “Surprisingly little regional variation exists on this question, with 50% of voters in urban areas, 51% in suburban communities, 49% in small towns, and 54% in rural areas saying hospitals are reaching full capacity,” the pollsters wrote.
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