Republicans took office this January pledging to change the direction that North Carolina was heading. By all accounts, they were successful.
Here’s the bad news: most North Carolinians who responded in the latest Elon University Poll don’t like it.
Fifty-nine percent said the state was headed in the wrong direction, compared with 32 percent who said the course was right. Unfortunately for the GOP, 49 percent blamed the Republicans, compared with just 19 percent pointing the finger at the Democrats. (27 percent blamed neither.)
Could be worse: 70 percent of North Carolinians said that the country was headed in the wrong direction.
Digging into the blame game on the state level:
Political party: 76 percent of Democrats blame Republicans, and 56 percent of Republicans blamed Democrats. Shocking!
Gender: 51 percent of men and 48 percent of women blame Republicans.
Age: 47 percent of 18-30-year olds ranging to 59 percent of 65+ blame Republicans.
Race: 46 percent of whites and 60 percent of blacks blame Republicans.
The dissatisfaction holds across the board throughout the poll as the General Assembly and Gov. McCrory saw their approval ratings drop.
The General Assembly took a number of controversial — and to some, unpopular — steps, including changing voting access, making abortion access stricter, loosening gun control and not giving teachers raises. Thousands rallied in protest every Monday during the spring and summer.
The state came in for damning coverage from the national news media, including editorials in the New York Times and the Washington Post. It’s unclear, though, how much the media coverage impacted the results. When asked if they had heard of the Moral Monday protests, for instance, 39 percent of respondents said they hadn’t.
Of course, it’s more than what happens in Raleigh. The state’s unemployment level is still high. People dissatisfied with Congress and the president are likely to carry their dissatisfaction over to the state level.
Meanwhile, the poll also shows that 29 percent of North Carolinians think the economy will get worse, with 26 percent thinking it will get better and 42 percent saying it will stay the same. (Most Democrats think it will get better or stay about the same; most Republicans think it will get worse or stay about the same.) Hardly a vote of confidence.
Gov. McCrory, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger have said they are proud of the work they did leading the state in a different, more conservative, direction. As people get used to the new legislation and its impacts, the numbers likely will change. Only time will tell in which direction.
— John Robinson