The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Mason-Dixon poll: Views of Bush shift in Va.; B1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

President Bush’s popularity has taken a beating in Virginia as of late, according to a new poll by Mason-Dixon Research.

Of 625 registered voters polled between Tuesday and Thursday, only 42 percent said his job performance was “excellent” or “good.” Some 20 percent rated him as “fair,” while 37 percent rated his job performance as “poor.”

Hurricane Katrina and Iraq seem to be the big drivers behind the slide, according to Mason-Dixon managing director J. Bradford Coker.

“For the first time since he was elected to the presidency, President George W. Bush’s overall job performance rating from Virginia voters has taken a serious hit,” he said.

In March 2001, Virginia’s voters gave Bush a combined 58 percent excellent or good rating. In October 2004, those numbers were still above water at 54 percent.

The Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont give Bush his highest marks in the state, with 49 percent in the excellent or good column. Northern Virginia has the dimmest view of his performance, with 44 percent rating his performance as poor.

Major groups tend to skew toward traditional lines. Bush does better among men than women, better among whites than blacks and much better among self-identified Republicans than Democrats and independents.

“While Bush has his share of problems, state voters do not seem to be completely abandoning him,” Coker said.
Virginia would be happy with Judge John Roberts as the next chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the poll.

Some 59 percent of those surveyed said they support his confirmation to the high court, while only 16 percent said they oppose it.

Another 25 percent were undecided.

Voters still haven’t made up their mind about the Patriot Act, though, according to the survey. Bush has said the Patriot Act, passed in the aftermath of Sept. 11 terror attacks, should be renewed.

It gave the government new powers to investigate and stop terrorism, including the power to do “sneak and peek” searches and the ability to look at a suspect’s library and bookstore records with a warrant from a secret federal court.

Some 44 percent said they support the act, while 38 percent oppose it. Eighteen percent were undecided.

Among other results:

• A majority of Virginia’s voters, 54 percent, don’t ap-prove of the president’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Another 38 percent said they do approve, while 8 percent were undecided.

Voters are also unsure of the commonwealth’s ability to respond in case of a disaster in Virginia. Only 32 percent said they felt state and local officials were “adequately prepared to deal with a major disaster or emergency.”
Another 38 percent said they felt Virginia’s governments weren’t ready, while 30 percent said they weren’t sure.

• Bush’s Iraq policy has gone underwater with Virginia voters. Some 52 percent say they disapprove of the president’s handling of Iraq, while 40 percent approve and 8 percent are undecided.

• The jury is still out on the Bush administration’s handling of the economy. An evenly split 46 percent approve and disapprove of his economic policy, while 8 percent are undecided.

• Voters in the Old Dominion still favor Bush’s handling of the war on terror — 56 percent approve, while 36 percent disapprove.

• Virginia voters don’t see race as a factor in problems with the response to Hurricane Katrina, by 80 percent to 13 percent.
Among blacks polled, 33 percent said race was a factor, 48 said it wasn’t. Another 19 percent said they weren’t sure.