Roanoke College Poll: Virginians Think McDonnell Acted Wrongly

By Roanoke College, Special for USDR.

Registered Virginia voters are largely split on Medicaid expansion (46% oppose, 42% favor), but 61 percent oppose potential unilateral action by Governor Terry McAuliffe to expand the program, according to the Roanoke College Poll. Roanoke College Poll interviewed 566 registered voters in Virginia between July 14 and July 19 and has a margin of error of +4.2 percent.

A majority of those polled think McAuliffe should work with the General Assembly to try to expand Medicaid rather than take action on his own. Even 28 percent of those who favor expansion said that McAuliffe should not act alone. Political Independents are opposed to both expansion (46%-37%) and to unilateral action (64%-21%). While self-described moderates favor Medicaid expansion (52%-35%), they are opposed to unilateral action by McAuliffe (55%-31%).

A majority of respondents (54%) think that former Governor Bob McDonnell, whose trial begins next week, did something wrong in his interactions with Jonnie Williams and Star Scientific (20% think he did nothing wrong). Opinion regarding the resignation of state Senator Phillip Puckett is split (23% think he did nothing wrong, 21% think he did something wrong), but a majority was unsure or did not know enough to have an opinion. There is a strong consensus, however, that their actions are typical of elected officials (76%) rather than uncommon events (11%).

These events tend to be viewed through partisan lenses. Two-thirds (67%) of Democrats think McDonnell did something wrong, compared to 56 percent of Independents, but 38% of Republicans also thought he did something wrong (31% of Republicans said he did nothing wrong). Regarding Puckett’s resignation, Democrats (31%) again were most likely to say he did something wrong, followed by Independents (24%) and Republicans (24%). There were virtually no partisan differences in seeing these events as typical elected official behavior.

“It seems that opinion is turning against McDonnell, although there may be a distinction between thinking he did something wrong and thinking he did something criminal,” said Dr. Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. “This poll was focused on the ethics rather than the legality.”

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