New polls find broad support from Virginians on some key issues in upcoming General Assembly session

The sun rises over the Virginia Capitol. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

A new poll from Christopher Newport University’s Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy shows most Virginians support the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, the creation of an independent redistricting commission and legalizing casinos.

The poll asked 841 registered voters about several issues that will likely be ironed out in the upcoming General Assembly session.

Some of the issues topics showed little difference in the sentiments of self-identified Democrats and Republicans.

Casinos and sports betting: Sixty-three percent of people polled supported regulated sports betting and casinos in the state, with most liking the idea of using that tax revenue for state needs like education or transportation.

“Virginia voters are ready for legalized sports betting and casinos, just like they were ready for the lottery 30 years ago,” said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason

“And just as education funding was a justification to open the door to gambling then, directing gambling taxes to education seems to appeal to voters today.”

Redistricting reform: Not every lawmaker is on the same page about who should be drawing voting maps in Virginia, but 71 percent of residents polled think it needs to be changed. Seventy-eight percent support a recently proposed constitutional amendment that takes the map-drawing out of the hands of the legislature.

Equal Rights Amendment: For the Equal Rights Amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution, one more state must ratify it, and Virginia voters appear to be interested in being that last needed ratification. Although approval of the ERA lags among men, voters in the Richmond area and voters 45 years old and older, 81 percent of those polled support approving it.

Extra money from federal tax reform: Voters are more divided by political affiliation on what to do with an estimated windfall of $600 million from federal tax reform. Republicans have favored a tax cut for everyone, while Democrats want to create a fully refundable tax credit for low- and moderate-income Virginians.

When put side by side, there’s a slight preference for the tax cut over the credit (49 to 46 percent). Support for the tax cut is about 20 percent higher in House and Senate districts that are currently held by Republicans.