October 28, 2010
POLL: Solid Majority of Virginians
Want Strong Bay Cleanup Plan
Three Quarters Say Chesapeake Bay "Needs Urgent Attention"
(RICHMOND, VA.) – An overwhelming majority of Virginia voters believe the Chesapeake Bay is important to the state's economy and support strong action by Virginia to restore clean water to the Bay, state rivers, and streams, a statewide survey has found.
The telephone survey, conducted last week by Public Opinion Strategies, a national polling firm, surveyed 500 registered voters across the Commonwealth and found:
- 80% of voters believe that Virginia can protect water quality and have a strong economy with good jobs for Virginians.
- A stunning 92% of state voters say that the phrase "important for Virginia's economy" describes the Bay well. Majorities of all geographic and demographic sub-groups recognize the economic importance of the Bay.
- By nearly three-to-one margins, Virginians prefer that Virginia develop a strong plan that seriously addresses Bay pollution over a viewpoint detailing concerns about how such a plan could harm the state's economy.
- By nearly a two-to-one margin, Virginia voters want Virginia to establish its own plan to reduce polluted runoff through stronger requirements and incentives so that farms, sewage treatment plants, and others meet the new pollution reduction standards.
- Fully 79% strongly agree that "Ensuring Virginia has clean water is an important role of state government, and the Governor and state leaders need to work together to help meet this basic need of all Virginians."
The results of the poll cut across most major demographic groups, including those accounting for gender, age, education, political party, and geographic location.
"The survey dramatically confirms that clean water is very important to Virginians and to Virginia's economy," said Ann Jennings, Virginia Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), which commissioned the survey. "And voters clearly want Virginia's leaders to develop a strong Bay cleanup plan that ensures clean water, a healthy Bay, and a strong economy for all Virginians."
Governor Robert McDonnell's administration issued a draft cleanup plan for Virginia last month. The plan drew criticism from EPA and CBF for lacking substance, details, and reasonable assurance the Commonwealth can achieve the pollution reductions needed to restore the Bay by 2025, the deadline set by EPA, Virginia, and the other Bay states. Should Virginia fail to produce a credible plan, EPA has said it will impose one of its own on the Commonwealth. Virginia and EPA are currently taking public comment on the state's draft plan through November 8.
Lori Weigel, a Public Opinion Strategies partner who conducted last week's survey, concluded, "There is a general consensus (among Virginians) that having clean water is a basic need and therefore important for state government. Therefore, voters would advise the state to 'come up with a better plan' for the Bay."
"The decisions made in the coming weeks will determine Virginia's water policy for decades to come," Jennings said. "CBF encourages all Virginians to contact Governor McDonnell to let him know they support an aggressive cleanup plan, created by Virginia for Virginians."
A copy of the Public Opinion Strategies polling results can be found here. The margin of sampling error for the full statewide sample is +/- 4.38%; margins of error for subgroups within the sample will be larger. Interviews were distributed proportionally throughout the state and are representative of active voters.
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Lori Weigel is a partner with Public Opinion Strategies, the largest Republican polling firm in the nation, with offices in Washington, Denver, and Los Angeles. Public Opinion Strategies' clients include over 40 members of Congress, seven governors, 16 U.S. senators, and numerous Fortune 500 companies. Two of the firm's partners won the 2009 "Pollster of the Year" award from the American Association of Political Consultants, in part for their work polling on prominent campaigns such as Senator Scott Brown (MA) and Governor Bob McDonnell (VA). The firm is the GOP partner on the polling for NBC/Wall Street Journal and for National Public Radio.
Formerly serving as the political pollster for Denver's News 4 and the Rocky Mountain News, Weigel is frequently quoted on politics and her polling has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, the San Diego Union Tribune, and the Chicago Tribune.