The fifth chapter of the 10th annual Life in Hampton Roads Survey, conducted by Old Dominion University's Social Science Research Center, focuses on politics, perceptions of police and related issues.

The political climate is one factor in understanding attitudes on a variety of social and political issues. Respondents were asked an array of questions, including party affiliation, political attitudes and voter registration. The 822 participants gave a wide variety of answers to these questions, but much of the data reflects response patterns seen in years past.

Political Affiliations and Attitudes

Respondents were asked what political party they generally feel closer to. A larger proportion reported feeling closer to the Democratic Party (34.2%) or being independent (30.5%) than the Republican party (18.8%). Only 8.7% reported feeling closer to something else.

Respondents were asked whether they were registered to vote. The vast majority (89.3%) said that they were, while only 9% reported that they were not registered.

President Donald Trump had been in office for more than 2½ years when the 2019 survey began. Respondents were asked how strongly they approved or disapproved of his job performance. More than half (58.4%) either disapproved (26.7%) or strongly disapproved (31.7%) of the job that he is doing as president. Only 9.8% strongly approved of the job that he is doing, while 17.6% approved.

President Trump's approval rating varied significantly across race and political affiliation. A strong majority of Republicans strongly approved or approved of his job performance (88.9%) compared to only 1% of Democrats. Additionally, 40.8% of white respondents approved or strongly approved of his performance compared to only 2.9% of black respondents.

Respondents were asked about the upcoming election for representatives in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. They were asked to identify if they would vote Republican for both, Democratic for both, one Republican and one Democrat, or if they would choose not to vote. The most common response was voting for the Democratic candidate for both positions (37.2%) followed by voting for the Republican candidate for both positions (17%). Another 8.5% said they would split their vote and 9.7% said they would not vote.

Perceptions of Local Police

Respondents were asked how satisfied they were with local police in general. The majority of respondents reported being somewhat satisfied (45.6%) and very satisfied (35.4%). A small minority (10.8%) reported being somewhat dissatisfied and only a few (7%) reported being very dissatisfied. There were significant differences when looking at race and city of residence. African American respondents were more likely to report being very or somewhat dissatisfied (27.8%) than white respondents (10.9%). When examining police satisfaction across cities, Suffolk reported the highest percentage of residents being very or somewhat satisfied (94.6%) and Portsmouth reported the lowest percentage of residents being very or somewhat satisfied (51.0%).

Respondents were asked how afraid they are of certain crimes in Hampton Roads. Only 23.8% reported being either somewhat afraid (19.1%) or afraid a great deal (4.7%) of having their home broken into while they are home. The majority of respondents (71.7%) reported either being not afraid at all (42.3%) or not much afraid (29.4%) of being robbed or mugged on the street. Additionally, 75.6% of respondents reported being either not at all afraid (46.5%) or not much afraid (29.1%) of being physically assaulted.

Just under two-thirds of respondents said that marijuana should be made legal (65.1%). Conversely, only 1 in 4 respondents reported that marijuana should remain illegal (25.8%).

The Life in Hampton Roads Data report and press releases will be placed on the Social Science Research Center website as they are released ( Follow-up questions about the 2019 Life in Hampton Roads survey should be addressed to:

Tancy Vandecar-Burdin, Ph.D.


The Social Science Research Center

Old Dominion University

757-683-3802 (office)

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