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Three Issues That Matter

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Economy

WHY THE ISSUE MATTERS

The shaky U.S. economy has dominated politics since last fall, and with unemployment topping 10 percent in some parts of the state, Virginia is no exception.

WHAT THE POLL SHOWS

The economy is a central issue for Virginia voters -- far more call it their top concern in choosing the next governor than cited any other issue -- and they are about evenly split on which candidate will do a better job handling it.

WHAT VOTERS SAID

Katie McKernan, 37, Roanoke

"McDonnell, I think he's more fiscally conservative, and I just find that my views align more with his. My understanding is he is against nationalized health care. My husband works in the medical field, and personally we think that nationalized health care would not only be bad for people's health care but that amount of control does not belong with the government. Although as governor he won't vote for it, it means that he views government power and what the government should be doing in the same light as we do."

John Koester, 44, Reston

"You want to keep Virginia competitive. Our unemployment generally is not that high. It's a business-friendly state, and I want to keep that going."

NUMBER TO KNOW

37%

Call the economy either the top issue or the second most-important issue in their vote for governor, making it issue No. 1.

Transportation

WHY THE ISSUE MATTERS

Until traffic improves in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, transportation is going to be a leading concern for voters. The state's budget shortfall, which has led to the postponement of scores of projects, has heightened worries for many.

WHAT THE POLL SHOWS

Virginia's roads and transit have prompted sharp debate in the governor's race, but voters are divided on whom they trust to steer the state's transportation plans. One thing voters are clear on: A wide majority opposes new taxes to fund future transportation projects.

WHAT VOTERS SAID

Russell Smith, 64, Herndon

"Wouldn't you pay a little more to be home an extra five hours a week? . . . We're burning gasoline sitting in lines. Somebody's got to get in there and fix this problem."

Cynthia Erskine, 55, Vienna

"Like everybody else in Northern Virginia, I care about transportation. I moved . . . because I couldn't stand my commute anymore, and I said I'm willing to pay for a house closer-in just so I don't have to be on the Beltway anymore. We don't have the infrastructure we need, but I don't trust the legislature in Virginia that, if we approved a new tax structure to fund transportation, it would truly be used for the transportation needs for Northern Virginia."

NUMBER TO KNOW

56%

Oppose new state taxes to pay for road and transit projects.

Abortion

WHY THE ISSUE MATTERS

Abortion was raised as an issue last week by R. Creigh Deeds, who supports abortion rights. Deeds sought to highlight Robert F. McDonnell's position on the issue: He opposes abortion except when the woman's life is in danger.

WHAT THE POLL SHOWS

Almost one-quarter of Virginia voters said they are unsure which candidate they trust to do a better job on the abortion issue, and those who have made up their minds split evenly between Deeds and McDonnell. But the issue might not prove decisive -- just 4 percent called it a top consideration.

WHAT VOTERS SAID

Joseph Michalowicz, 67, Manassas

"I don't think that's the right thing to push, to be honest. That is an issue that does border on people's religious views. Independently of what one's view is on that, I don't think that should be a primary issue. I think it's an important moral issue. But I don't think it's an important issue facing people."

John Koester, 44, Reston

"I'm Catholic. From the moment you see the ultrasound, you can see that it's alive. Knowing that, and knowing how hard it is for a lot of people to have children, I generally oppose abortion. . . . [But] I have voted for candidates who are not pro-life. It is just one issue."

NUMBER TO KNOW

55%

Say they think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

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