Last week, Mason Dixon conducted a poll on behalf of The Family Foundation regarding several of our legislative priorities for 2012.  Not surprisingly, a majority of Virginians indicated support for these items, in some cases, by very wide margins. 2012-1-20 VA Fam Found Polling Results

One of our top priorities for 2012 is the scholarship tax credit bills patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) and Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-72, Henrico), legislation that is a priority for Governor Bob McDonnell as well.   This proposal received the highest support of anything on our agenda, with 71 percent of Virginians in favor.  This support crosses all demographics, including political party, region, race and sex and went as high as 81% in the Roanoke/Southwest region.  This is not surprising, since a similar poll conducted on our behalf in late 2008 showed almost identical support.  Virginians want education freedom, and we are confident that this is the year we will see a breakthrough.

Another education item on our agenda that receive overwhelming support is allowing home school students to try out for teams at the public schools they would otherwise attend.  This proposal is supported by 69 percent of Virginians who understand that homeschool families pay taxes, are members of the community and that these kids should have the same opportunity as any other student. Naysayers claim that homeschool students don’t “meet the same standards” as public school students, but the poll shows Virginians understand that homeschooling is often much more academically challenging than public schools.  Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville) is patroning this legislation.

Both of these issues show that the overwhelming majority of Virginians understand that private and homeschool families are important parts of our communities.

Another priority for The Family Foundation is legislation that will require an ultrasound 24 hours prior to an abortion, with the woman seeking the abortion being offered the opportunity to view the image of her unborn child.  Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester) and Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lychburg), among others, are carrying this legislation this year.  This proposal is supported by 54 percent of Virginians.  Most interesting, however, is that while 50 percent of men support the idea, 57 percent of women are in favor of the legislation, indicating that it is women in Virginia who strongly favor updating our informed consent with the most current technology available.  Nearly 20 states have passed some type of ultrasound legislation in the past decade.

Virginians also showed strong support for faith- based child placement agencies.  When asked if these groups should be forced to violate their faith principles regarding family or face losing state support 54 percent of Virginians said no.  Again, support for these agencies crosses demographic lines.  This year, we are asking that the General Assembly ensure that these important organizations be protected from future attempts at forcing them to violate their faith with legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff McWaters (R-8, Virginia Beach) and Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock).

Another new proposal found support as well.  In the past two years six states have passed legislation that prohibits abortion after the time science finds unborn children feel pain, generally regarded as 20 weeks, widely known as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  Our poll found that fifty one percent of Virginians support this brand new proposal.  Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) and Delegate Rich Anderson (R-51, Woodbridge) are carrying the legislation.

Finally, Virginians now oppose taxpayer funding of failed embryonic stem cell research 51 to 36.  That number has grown from 43 percent in late 2008 as the failure of this unethical research becomes more public and more researchers admit it’s time to move on.  In fact, in December, the scientist that led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep said to a group of researchers that embryonic stem cell research is a thing of the past.  It is time that the General Assembly catches up with the scientific community and prohibits failed embryonic stem cell research in Virginia.  Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Richmond) has introduced legislation that would do just that.

We believe these poll numbers are important because they verify that the Virginians that sent more conservatives to Richmond this year, leading to a super majority in the House and a majority in the state Senate, knew exactly what they were doing and have expectations that these and other values issues will be successful.  Opinion matters; but opinion that drives behavior matters more.  These opinions drove Virginians to the polls to vote for conservatives and believe that those conservatives will support these proposals.