More than 90 percent of Virginians likely to vote in the upcoming gubernatorial election support the state’s Bay cleanup plan, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The Foundation released Tuesday the results of the poll, conducted by a bipartisan research team that in July conducted more than 600 telephone interviews of registered voters who have a history of participating in gubernatorial elections.
“It’s rare that we can find any topic that has 92 percent support,” said David Metz, a partner with the research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates who helped conduct the poll.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled said they don’t see a conflict between protecting water quality in the Bay and its watershed and having a strong economy in the Commonwealth.
The poll also asked participants what type of candidate they would support, based on the candidate's stance toward Bay cleanup.

Sixty-five percent said they’d support a candidate who continues to implement Virginia’s plan to reduce pollution in its waterways, while fewer than one-third said water quality was not as important as the economy when considering a candidate.

Ann Jennings, CBF’s Virginia executive director, said that while the poll wasn’t specifically timed for the November election, it is intended to give policy makers and leaders insight into where voters stand. The state has just four years to achieve 60 percent of the pollution reduction goals laid out in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint shared by Bay states.

“We would certainly hope that candidates would welcome this information on where voters stand and see this as an opportunity for leadership on their part,” Jennings said.

Lori Weigel with Public Opinion Strategies, which also conducted the polling, said the results show Virginians prioritize the Chesapeake Bay as an economic driver as well as a natural asset.

Overall, participants ranked Bay-related tourism and recreation above manufacturing and mining when asked which industries were most important to the state’s economy.

View more of the poll results here.