Category Archives: National politics

Mixed news for the GOP

Because this is the week of the Republican National Convention, most of the polling involves Republicans.

Gallup reports  that “Mitt Romney is about as well-liked as he has been during the presidential campaign, with 48% of Americans holding a favorable view of him and 46% an unfavorable view.” That news may be good enough, but it becomes great news when you factor in that in mid-July only 39% of Americans had a favorable view of him.

* On the flip side, a Pew Research Center poll found that people tend to use negative words when describing Romney. “Overall, 42% of the words volunteered by respondents are clearly negative, most commonly liar, arrogant, crook, out of touch, distrust and fake. Fewer (28%) offer words that are clearly positive in tone, such as honest, good, leadership, and capable. The remaining 30% of words are more descriptive and neutral in their tone, including businessman, rich, conservative, and Republican. As the campaign progresses, fewer Americans are offering neutral descriptions of Romney, but people continue to have more negative than positive things to say about him.”

* Meanwhile, a Gallup poll also found that Americans are pretty evenly split on whether they like Rep. Paul Ryan. He was viewed favorably by 38% and unfavorably by 36%. Perhaps more interesting, 26% said they hadn’t heard of him or didn’t know enough about him to have an opinion.

Stressed? At least it’s not caused by the political campaigns

As Isaac bears down on the Gulf Coast, the presidential race is deadlocked. Still projections continue.

Gallup looked at the results of the 15 presidential elections since 1952 and determined that, “All else being equal, the leader of the Gallup poll prior to the convention has an 80% probability of winning the election, according to past data.

“Of course, all else is not equal. When pre-convention polls show a tight race, as is the case this year, conventions have been more likely to create new leaders or galvanize support for a heretofore weak leader. Thus, both President Obama and Romney have the potential this year to gain an upper hand as a result of the convention process.”

So who is ahead? Gallup won’t post that information until later today.

Meanwhile, a CNN/ORC International poll gives President Barack Obama the nod on social issues, and Mitt Romney has the edge on the economy, which is what Americans say is their No. 1 concern. But the poll also makes clear that “there are a lot of issues where neither candidate has an appreciable edge, and many of them – including welfare, taxes, health care, and Medicare – have been fodder recently for both presidential campaigns.”

So, to put it all into perspective, Harris Interactive reports that 73% of us are stressed at work. But it’s not the political campaign that is causing it. Instead, “The top source of stress, felt by 11 percent of survey respondents, is low wages. For women, that rises to 14 percent.”

Elon Poll at the Democratic National Convention

With the presidential race picking up intensity with each passing day, the Elon University Poll is breaking with its long-standing tradition of surveying North Carolina residents. This week, we will poll likely voters in North Carolina with the results scheduled to be released on Sept. 3.

Labor Day is historically the unofficial kick off of the campaign season, although in reality the two presidential candidates have been running for months. The Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, in partnership with the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer, is purposely timing the poll to coincide with the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. 

The results will be released at the Charlotte Observer at a 10:30 a.m. Monday news conference, followed immediately by a panel discussion examining the presidential campaign. On the panel are Charlie Cook, editor of Cook Political Report & National Journal columnist; Domenico Montanaro, NBC News deputy political editor; Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers; Rob Christensen, chief political writer for the News and Observer of Raleigh; and Taylor Batten, editorial page editor for the Charlotte Observer.

If you’re in Charlotte for the convention, please join us. We expect to get a look from the poll at how North Carolina voters are thinking and insight from the panel into state and presidential politics.

– John Robinson

N.C. is not loving the Affordable Care Act

As we are on so many issues, North Carolinians are evenly split on whether it is the responsibility of the feds to ensure that everyone has health care coverage.

But most North Carolinians don’t care for the Affordable Health Care Act, 46% to 38%, and they don’t thiis nk it is going to result in better health care in the long run, 45% to 34%.

That’s notable because it is markedly different from the national sentiment, as measured by Gallup in February. That organization found that Americans were evenly split over whether the passage of the Act was a good thing, 45% to 44%.

In addition, 38% in the Gallup Poll said they thought the law would make things worse; 24% said better.

Not surprisingly, the responses hewed right down party lines. Forty percent of Democrats said the law would improve things; only 3% of Republicans did.

“Stand your ground” in N.C.: Support, but a racial divide

The “Stand Your Ground” law, in which a person is legally entitled to fight back with deadly force if they feel threatened, even if they could retreat instead, is supported 50% to 45% nationally, according to the Washington Post/ABC News poll.

In North Carolina, which has such a law, respondents in the Elon University Poll are even more emphatic in support of the law — 54% to 38%.

But it isn’t as clear cut as it seems.

The N.C. General Assembly passed the law as part of the “Castle Doctrine,” which provides protection from criminal and civil penalties for those who use guns to defend themselves in their homes, cars and workplaces. It is under the spotlight now because of the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

But there is a distinct racial divide over the issue. African Americans oppose the “Stand Your Ground” law, 64%, while whites only 32% of whites oppose it. Flipping it over, 58% of whites support the laws, and 27% of blacks do.

The same is true nationally. From the The Washington Post/ABC News survey. Nearly seven in 10 blacks oppose “Stand Your Ground” laws, which hold that people are legally entitled to fight back with deadly force if they feel threatened, even if they could retreat instead. Most whites — 55 percent — support such laws.

– John Robinson

Super PACs should be banned

Super PACs allow people, corporations and unions to make unlimited donations in support of a particular candidate or party with little regulation. According to the Sunlight Foundation, “Outside groups, including super PACs and nonprofit organizations, have spent almost four times more on the 2012 presidential campaign than comparable organizations spent at the same point in the 2008 cycle.”

People don’t like them.

In North Carolina, 63% of the residents surveyed in the Elon University Poll said they should be illegal. Nationally, the number is even higher, according to a poll by the Washington Post-ABC News last month. In that survey, 69% of Americans said Super PACS should be banned.

Even more damning, 69% of respondents in another poll agreed that “new rules that let corporations, unions and people give unlimited money to Super PACs will lead to corruption,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

We did not ask about corruption, but it is fair to assume that many North Carolinians are thinking about the impact of all that money.

It’s not just Super PACs that North Carolinians want scaled back. Seventy-three percent of respondents in the Elon University Poll think the amount of money corporations can give to political candidates should be limited, and 69% think the amount of money from unions should be limited.

Fifty-four percent of North Carolinians even think the government should limit the amount of money individuals can give.

What does all this mean? North Carolinians have a strong individualistic, egalitarian streak. They don’t like the idea that people with more money have a stronger voice than anyone else in who gets elected.

– John Robinson

N.C. supports the Buffett Rule

North Carolinians support the so-called Buffett Rule, which requires households earning $1 million or more a year to pay a minimum of 30% of their income in taxes.

Are you listening Congress?

In the latest Elon University Poll, 61% of respondents said they support the Buffett Rule, which was killed two weeks ago by a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

While Mitt Romney might be able to get ground in N.C. by campaigning on the economy, President Obama could make hay by campaigning on the Buffett Rule.

Nationally, a Gallup Poll taken earlier this month found 60% favored the rule.

Obama and Romney: the likability factor

In the latest Elon University Poll, 49% of North Carolinians said they have a favorable opinion of the President Obama to only 28% who say the same of Mitt Romney. Because people seem to like horse-race stories, let’s put it this way:   Obama has lapped Romney in terms of likability. But like most horse-race presentions, those numbers only tell part of the full story.

Obama’s likability numbers have not changed markedly since last November — 42% have an unfavorable opinion of him and 8 percent “don’t know.”

The most interesting thing about Romney’s numbers is not that only 28% of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of the former Massachusetts governor. The most interesting thing is that 28% answered “don’t know” when asked what they think of him.

This, after nearly a year of campaigning, dozens of televised GOP debates and appearances on the news every day.

This presents both an opportunity and a challenge for Romney. The opportunity is this: Come visit with us. North Carolina is considered a battleground state, and it’s time to bring the battle to us. People want to see and hear the candidates on their turf. They want to see and hear Romney on their local television station and hometown newspapers. Obama has been here more than a dozen times since he’s been president. Romney has campaigned in the state once — last week — this campaign season. That doesn’t make us feel appreciated.

Listen to  Jason Wolonick, a 19-year-old UNC-Chapel Hill freshman from Pinehurst who attended the president’s speech on Tuesday. “He appealed to me personally because he said, ‘I was there.’ And he was there.”

 Are you listening, Gov. Romney?

The challenge? Romney needs to persuade almost all of those 28% “don’t knows” to join the 28% who like him to win the state.* He can do that, too, because the president is vulnerable on the economy and other areas, such as health care, which we’ll talk about on next week.

That could well be a big challenge. Among 18-34 year-olds polled, 38% said “don’t know.” Meanwhile, Obama is “slow jammin’ the news” on Jimmy Fallon. That age group went Obama in 2008.

Nationally, FOX News has Obama polling with 50% favorable to Romney’s 42%. CBS News/New York Times has Obama polling with 42% favorable to Romney’s 29%.

* That’s me adding 2+2. Whether it adds up to 4 will be seen. The Elon University Poll does not do horse race polling. We survey North Carolina residents, not likely voters.

– John Robinson

President Obama’s disapproval ratings

North Carolina residents continue to disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the economy (54%). Given that the economy is by far the most important issue facing the state, the Elon University Poll shows that 49% of North Carolinians disapprove of Obama’s job performance.

The poll was in the field when the president was speaking at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which means that his face was on the front pages of many of the state’s newspapers and leading the news broadcasts. Yet, that exposure, though, didn’t seem to help his approval rating. The number of North Carolina residents who disapproved of his job performance last November was 47%. In February, it was 48%. Given the polling margin of error, his numbers are statistically flat.

Nationally, Fox News polling shows that 51% disapprove of Obama’s job performance; Gallup, 44%; Rasmussen, 53%; and NBC/Wall Street Journal, 46%. Make of that swing what you will. Me, I’d say that the daily horse race polls will go back and forth more than a swing at a crowded playground for several more months.

But in North Carolina, it means that the president shows signs of vulnerability. It’s not happenstance that he gave a major speech on student loans at UNC. He needs to win the youth vote, which he captured in 2008 and which is his to lose in 2012.

Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate among the highest in the nation. Obama will have a hard time getting traction that he’s helped North Carolinians’ pocketbooks, which Mitt Romney clearly knows. The former governor was in Charlotte last week and his message was clear: Obama has failed the state when it comes to the economy. According to ABC News, Romney referred to the Democratic National Convention coming up in September.

Now, what you won’t hear at that convention is that for the last 38 months, unemployment has been above 8 percent, that we’ve had 24 million Americans that are out of work, stopped looking for work, or underemployed,” said Romney. “You won’t hear that since he gave that speech and became president that there have been 50,000 more job losses here in North Carolina, more than twice as many as would fit in that stadium.”

“You will not hear that 400,000 North Carolinians are out of work. You will not hear that 93 percent of the people who lost their jobs during the Obama years have been women,” he continued. “Those are things you will not hear, but as I’m the nominee for our party, I hope, I’m going make sure the people of America hear those things loud and clear.”

For Obama, it is about energizing the base. For Romney, “it’s the economy, stupid.”

– John Robinson

Same-sex marriage, state by state

As the debate over North Carolina’s marriage amendment heats up, here — thanks to the Los Angeles Times — is an interactive map that provides a  little perspective on where every state in the nation is on the same-sex marriage issue.

– John Robinson