New Poll: Virginia Voters Deeply Concerned about Flood Risk & Want Leaders to Address It
(Washington, D.C. – May 6, 2021) Today, EDF Action, the advocacy partner of the Environmental Defense Fund, released a statewide poll of likely 2021 Virginia voters ahead of this year’s statewide elections there. The poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, shows that there is broad, statewide and bipartisan support for taking action to protect the state from flooding. Voters not only overwhelmingly want the next governor to act to protect Virginia’s communities from flooding and support the state’s Coastal Resilience Master Plan, but they also strongly support spending state money to fund the Community Preparedness Flood Fund to meet the Commonwealth’s long-term flood preparedness needs.
“This survey shows that voters across Virginia, both inland and coastal and across all parties, see flooding as a real threat to the commonwealth and overwhelmingly believe that the next governor should take action to address it – including using state money to fund projects identified by the Coastal Resilience Master Plan,” said Andrew Baumann, Senior Vice President, Research, Global Strategy Group.
“In recent years, Virginia has made significant strides in creating pathways to build flood resilience for our future,” said Emily Steinhilber, Director, Virginia Coastal Resilience for EDF Action. “This poll shows that voters across the commonwealth understand that climate change is impacting us now and are fully behind the important work to reduce our flood risk. At the same time, we have a tremendous opportunity to expand outreach efforts and engage more Virginians in this critical process.”
- More than 77% of voters statewide — across parties and including both inland and coastal residents — want Virginia’s next governor to address the state’s flood risk.
- 62% of statewide Virginia voters believe flooding, heavy rainfall and rising sea levels are already having a serious impact on Virginia.
- 61% of voters say climate change is already having a serious impact on Virginia.
- Nearly half of all coastal voters believe sea level rise will directly impact them in the next 10 years.
- 81% of voters statewide want the commonwealth to have a regularly-updated, science-based plan that addresses flood risk.
- At the same time, voters have little knowledge of the state’s Coastal Resilience Master Plan with 80% saying they have heard little or nothing about it.
- Two-thirds of Virginia voters support using state dollars to fund the Community Preparedness Flood Fund, including majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans. Inland voters are 5% more supportive than coastal voters.
- Only 17% of voters statewide and 33% of coastal voters indicate that they currently own flood insurance.
- More than half of voters statewide said the state should prioritize nature-based solutions, like restoring coastal wetlands, to reduce flood risk.
Virginia has the highest rates of sea level rise of the entire Atlantic seaboard. More than 165,000 homes, up to 877 miles of roads and thousands of acres of wetland habitat are at risk from three feet of sea level rise. Additionally, sea level rise threatens the largest naval base in the world, Naval Station Norfolk, which supplies 46% of the local economy and employs the largest population of military personnel in the country, as well as the Port of Virginia, which is undergoing dredging to become the deepest container port on the East Coast.
In 2020 Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration released the Virginia Coastal Master Planning Framework, a roadmap to guide development of the Commonwealth’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan expected to be released later this year. That same year, the General Assembly created the Community Flood Preparedness Fund to fund projects across the state that reduce flood risk and joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), of which 45% of the proceeds will be dedicated to the Community Fund Preparedness Fund. The first quarterly auction brought in $19.8 million for the fund and it is expected to generate upwards of $750 million over the next decade.
About the poll:
Global Strategy Group conducted a multi-channel survey via telephone and online panel of 600 Virginia likely 2021 voters plus an oversample of 300 coastal voters, to achieve a total of 421 coastal interviews, from April 20 and April 26, 2021. The margin of error at the 95% confidence level for statewide likely voters is +/- 4.0% and 4.8% for coastal voters. Care was taken to ensure the demographic composition of the sample matched Virginia’s voter population across a variety of demographic variables including race, gender, age, education, and region.