The General Assembly has picked up a bit of steam since our February poll.
Thirty-seven percent of North Carolinians surveyed this month approved of the Legislature’s performance, up 4 percentage points from February.
It may not seem like much, but bear in mind this has been a controversial month for the elected officials in Raleigh. The legislators are debating bills that would cut the days of early voting, double the length of the waiting period before a couple could get divorced and eliminate teacher tenure. A bill that might have established a state religion – roundly criticized as unconstitutional – was withdrawn, but not before it got national publicity. And not in a good way.
Meanwhile, they approved legislation that permanently cuts unemployment benefits for while temporarily taxing businesses until a state debt is paid off. And they have discussed — since tabled — the possibility of closing one or more of the UNC-system campuses.
But if there is widespread opposition among North Carolina residents to any of those actions, it isn’t coming through in the polling results. Except, of course, that 39 percent of North Carolinians who responded said they disapprove of how the General Assembly is doing its job.
Because Republicans control the Senate and the House, it’s not surprising that 46 percent of the Republicans we surveyed approve of the Legislature’s performance. Only 30 percent of Democrats do. Men also rated the Legislature higher — 42 percent approval — than women — 32 percent.
A more surprising result may be the age of those who support the General Assembly. Among respondents 18-30, 49 percent approved of their performance, the highest by far of any of the age groups.
Two things to look for in the coming months:
* Once the General Assembly passes legislation, it takes a little while for residents to realize that something is different. How they respond to that will determine how highly people think of their elected officials.
* The General Assembly still has a budget process to go through. If popular services are cut in a measurable way and people feel the cuts, you know what will happen.
— John Robinson