57 percent of Virginia voters would support a homeowner fee to help reduce polluted runoff.

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Poll Shows Strong Support for A Range of Policies to Protect Water Quality in Virginia

A sizable majority of voters is willing to tax itself to pay for it

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More than 90 percent of Virginia voters support the Commonwealth's plan to restore the Chesapeake Bay and want the next governor to move forward on implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the federal-state plan to restore the Bay, according to new bipartisan polling. View the press release.

The bipartisan research team of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R) recently completed a survey of Virginia voters to evaluate public perceptions about the quality of water in the State, the Virginia economy, and Virginia’s plan to clean up the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
Following are excerpts of their memo summarizing their results

Download the memo in PDF format

TO:     Interested Parties 
FROM:   David Metz and Rachel Weiler
        Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates
        Lori Weigel
        Public Opinion Strategies
RE:     Virginia Voter Support for the Clean-Up of the Chesapeake Bay 
DATE:   August 5, 2013

Methodology: From July 21-24, 2013, FM3 and POS completed 601 telephone interviews – on landlines and on cell phones – with voters in Virginia likely to cast ballots in November 2013. The margin of sampling error at the 95% confidence interval is +/- 4.0%; margins of error for subgroups within the sample will be higher. Due to rounding, some percentages do not sum to 100%.

The poll results show strong support for a range of policies to protect water quality in Virginia: voters back the state's current Bay clean-up plan, and a sizable majority is willing to tax itself to pay for it. Virginia voters also support other policies – like fencing in cattle along bodies of water, and ensuring that students receive environmental education – that will help to protect water quality and promote conservation in the state.

Among the key specific findings of the survey were the following:

  • Nine out of ten Virginia voters support Virginia's plan to clean up the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Respondents were given a brief description of the Bay clean-up plan as reproduced in Figure 1 on the following page. 92 percent of voters say they support the plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and nearly two-thirds (64%) do so "strongly." Only one Virginia voter in 25 says they oppose the clean-up plan.

Figure 1: Virginian's Support for Chesapeake Bay Clean-up Plan

Support for the Bay clean-up plan is consistent across a remarkable array of subgroups of the state's population, including:

  • 94 percent of Democrats, 89 percent of Republicans, and 93 percent of independents;
  • 88 percent of conservatives, 95 percent of moderates, and 97 percent of liberals;
  • 85 percent of those who support the Tea Party movement and 95 percent of those who do not;
  • 92 percent of voters ages 18-49 and 93 percent of voters over 50; and
  • Over 85 percent of voters in all regions of the state.

  • Voters are willing to back up their principled support for water quality improvements with their wallets. Respondents were given a short description, shown in Figure 2 on the following page, of a proposal to establish a fee for homeowners that would help fund the plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. A 57-percent majority of voters indicates that it would support such a proposal, which would cost the average Virginia homeowner about one dollar per week. Only 38 percent of voters oppose this proposal.
  • Chart: Virginians support for a fee to fund the Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan
  • Further, two-thirds of Virginians would support requiring farmers to enclose their cattle in order to protect water quality. Respondents were given a short description of a proposal requiring Virginia farmers to build fences to prevent cattle from polluting local waterways. As shown in Figure 3 below and on the following page, two-thirds of those polled back the idea, with four-in-ten Virginia voters saying they would "strongly" support this proposal to require Virginia farmers to build fences to prevent cattle from polluting local bodies of water. Only 27 percent of voters oppose this proposal.
  • Chart: Support for Requiring Farmers to Enclose Cattle
  • Over two-thirds of Virginians would back environmental education requirements in Virginia's schools. After hearing a brief description of the proposal, 68 percent of Virginia voters say they would support Virginia schools requiring students to learn essential facts about the environment (Figure 4). Thirty-nine percent of voters say they would "strongly" support this proposal; only 28 percent say they would oppose it.

Taken together, these survey results clearly demonstrate that Virginia voters are willing to support a wide range of approaches—from paying clean water fees to requiring cattle enclosures to setting standards for environmental education—to help ensure that the state's rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay are cleaned up, and to put Virginia on a path for reliably clean water for the state's future.

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