Virginians’ motivation to vote in next election grows amid impeachment proceedings, VCU poll finds

A person stands holding a sheet of stickers in one hand and an "I voted" sticker in the...
Virginians are increasingly motivated to vote in 2020, according to a statewide poll conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. (Getty Images)

Angelica Bega
Executive assistant to L. Douglas Wilder
(804) 828-8520 or

Farrah Stone, Ph.D.
Poll Director
(804) 305-3447 or

Against the backdrop of last month’s election that gave Democrats control of Virginia’s General Assembly and amid the process of impeaching President Donald Trump, Virginians are increasingly motivated to vote, according to a statewide poll conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The poll also provides a snapshot of potential 2020 presidential election matchups in Virginia, as well as other issues, including whether Virginians support the idea of forming a congressional commission to study reparations for the descendants of slaves in the United States.

The telephone survey of 818 adults living in Virginia was conducted Dec. 2-13. It has an estimated margin of error for likely voters of plus or minus 5.13 percentage points.

Among the poll’s key findings:

  • There was an increase in those who reported they would definitely vote in the next election. While it is normal for the percentage of those who say they will vote to be inflated because of the social desirability of voting, 83% of respondents in the Wilder School’s current poll said they would definitely vote, compared to only 73% of those polled in October, for an increase of 10%. 
  • Support for the Democratic 2020 frontrunners has shifted with likely voters since the Wilder School’s October poll. Biden is still ahead of Trump by 3 percentage points (49% versus 46%). Warren is evenly split, with both receiving 47%. And Trump is ahead of Sanders by 3 percentage points (48% versus 45%).   
  • Republicans have moved away from Trump, while independents have increased their support. In the Wilder School’s October poll, each party’s support for their own candidates was over 90%. Now Republican support has dipped, while Democrat support for each of the hopefuls remains basically the same. Republican support for Trump decreased by 8 percentage points against Biden (to 86%), and by 10 percentage points against Warren and Sanders (to 86% and 87%, respectively). Meanwhile, independents have shifted from each of the Democratic candidates to Trump. Trump support from independents increased 10 percentage points against Biden (to 48%) and Sanders (to 54%). And independent support increased by 13 percentage points against Warren (to 51%). 
  • A third of respondents strongly or somewhat favor a congressional commission to study how reparations could work, while 59% strongly or somewhat oppose. This finding matches national level polling on the issue. Age played a significant factor in opinion with those under age 45 being more likely to support strongly or somewhat (52% of ages 18-34 and 42% of ages 35-44). Minorities and Democrats were more likely to be supportive of the measure (61% of Democrats and 54% of minorities).

"Our latest poll continues our school’s efforts to inform and explain the changes in the perceptions of Virginia voters and the reasons therefor,” said former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder. “The people want to know what the numbers are, but also, why."

For the full poll results and methodology, visit

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Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in 233 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, and MCV Physicians. The clinical enterprise includes a collaboration with Sheltering Arms Institute for physical rehabilitation services. For more, please visit and