New survey finds roads, education top issues West Virginians most concerned about

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A recent poll sponsored by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is providing insight on the issues most concerning West Virginians.

According to the survey released last week, 37% of respondents say the top issue in the state is improving West Virginia’s roads and highways, followed by improving public education (31%), creating and protecting jobs (26%), stopping the state’s drug abuse problem (26%) and fixing health care in the state (25%). Respondents were allowed to name up to two issues they consider the most important.

The survey comes in the midst of the Legislature discussing education legislation, including an omnibus bill the House of Delegates passed last week. The Senate is expected to discuss the measure upon returning to Charleston on Monday.

“Education, in our poll, came second,” said Brian Dayton, the chamber’s director for research and member communications. “It shows that voters really care about this issue.”

When asked about education, 76% of respondents said the governor and Legislature should pass reforms to improve the public education system with 51% strongly agreeing with the need for legislation.

In regards to the state of education, 25% of participants said the system was excellent or good (4% and 21% respectively) while 35% said it was average and 37% said the system was failing.

“I think that really has been driving a lot of these legislators to find reforms to the state’s school system,” Dayton said.

“I wasn’t very surprised at all when I saw those numbers come back,” he added.

Additional findings:

— 56% said they preferred “reforms that include a teacher pay raise, more parental control, and more investment into areas of critical need.”
— 46% said they were more likely to support a lawmaker who backs education reform compared to 29% who say they are more likely to oppose a lawmaker for supporting legislative change.
— Gov. Jim Justice has a 40% approval rating and a 51% disapproval rating, while U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has an approval rating of 50% and a disapproval rating of 42%. Manchin is rumored to be considering a gubernatorial run. There was not a question regarding Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who is running for reelection in next year’s election cycle.
— Republican legislators have a 43% job approval rating and a 43% disapproval rating. Democrats in the Legislature have a 34% job approval rating compared to a 50% approval rating.

Mark Blankenship Enterprises conducted the survey between June 9 and June 12; 405 registered, likely voters were polled using telephone interviews. The survey has a margin of error of 4.86%.

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