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The Roanoke College Poll: Virginians support ethics and mental health reforms, split on Medicaid expansion

Warner leads widely-unknown Gillespie in possible Senate race

SALEM, Va., Jan. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Virginians strongly support mental health and ethics reforms, but are divided on Medicaid expansion, according to The Roanoke College Poll. In a very early test of a possible November match-up, Senator Mark Warner leads Republican Ed Gillespie by almost 30 points (50%-21%), but Gillespie is unfamiliar to most Virginians.

The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 633 residents in Virginia between January 13 and January 17 and has a margin of error of +3.9 percent. (The election question was only asked of registered voters--N=553, margin of error = 4.2%)

In a survey of issues in the 2014 General assembly, a large majority (81%) of Virginians support extending the length of time for emergency custody to 24 hours, while 7 percent prefer an expansion to six hours. An equal number (81%) favor creating an electronic registry of available beds in psychiatric facilities, and nearly as many (70%) favor adding $38 million to the next budget for mental health care as proposed by former Governor Bob McDonnell.

With regard to Medicaid expansion, one-third (33%) said the program should be expanded in Virginia only when it is reformed to be more efficient. Slightly fewer (30%) said it should be expanded now, and one in four (26%) said it should not be expanded at all.

Looking at approval ratings, Terry McAuliffe begins his term as Governor with a 36 percent favorable rating (22% unfavorable). Senator Mark Warner has a favorable rating of 47 percent, down 10 percent from September, and Senator Tim Kaine sits at 40 percent, a decline of 8 points since September. Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee Chair and potential Senate candidate, has only a 6 percent favorable rating, with 13 percent unfavorable, but three-fourths (75%) of Virginians do not know enough about him to have an opinion.

"At this very early point in the U.S. Senate race, Ed Gillespie is unknown to most Virginians," said Dr. Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. "It is no surprise he trails Mark Warner so decisively. There is plenty of time for that to change as the state gets to know him. Meanwhile, Warner, generally the most popular elected official in the Commonwealth, has seen his approval rating drop below 50 percent. That is low for him, but still a rating that most elected officials would envy."

For more information, visit Roanoke.edu.

SOURCE The Roanoke College Poll

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