Category Archives: National politics

Happy days aren’t here again quite yet

Are you more optimistic about the direction of the country than you were last month? A Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that many Americans are, even as most people think the country is still going the wrong way. “The telephone poll, conducted September 7-10, showed 39 percent of Americans believed the country was moving in the right direction, while a still-high 55 percent believed it was on the wrong track.

“The numbers represented a sizable change from August, when 31 percent of those surveyed thought the country was going in the right direction and 64 percent on the wrong track.”

In a separate poll, Pew Research Center reports that Democrats are feeling a bit better about the economy. Republicans? Eh, not so much. “Just 15% of Democrats say recent economic news is mostly bad, down from 31% a month ago and among the lowest percentages over the last four years. Six-in-ten Republicans (60%) say news about the economy is mostly bad, as do 36% of independents. Opinions among Republicans and independents are largely unchanged from a month ago.”

A convention bounce? Pleased with the direction of the stock market? Ignoring the soft employment numbers? Who knows?

— John Robinson


North Carolina is first!

It appears as if the first two votes cast in the 2012 presidential election were cast in North Carolina, thanks to absenttee ballots. Is there significance to that?


But the Huffington Post reports: The number of absentee ballot applications is down by nearly half from 2008. In 2008, election officials had received 37,539 applications compared to 20,695 in 2012, or 45 percent fewer applications. The number of applications from registered Republicans is down more than Democrats, which are also down. The percentage of registered Republicans declined by 55 percent while the percentage of registered Democrats declined 35 percent. Thus registered Republicans composed 51 percent of the earliest absentee ballot applications in 2008 and 42 percent in 2012.

In other news from the world of polling, we present what we hope is the last of the post-convention polls. Gallup reports that Americans liked the Democratic National Convention more than the Republican National Convention.

But:  At the same time, a relatively high 38% of Americans say the convention made them less likely to vote for Obama, resulting in a net impact rating of +5, which is on the low-end of Gallup’s historical comparisons.

And finally, it appears Americans are judging the election as a choice between two candidatesrather than a referendum on President Obama’s first term.

A majority of voters say their opinion of Obama has gotten worse since he took office, the poll found.

Forty-one percent said they have a “much worse” view of Obama now than in 2008; 11 percent said their opinion is “slightly worse,” while 38 percent overall said their view of him had improved.

By contrast, a near-majority of voters — 47 percent — say their view of Romney has improved as they have learned more about him, compared to 39 percent who said their opinion of the GOP candidate has become worse.

Are you excited about your presidential choices?

NBC reports that Democrats are facing an enthusiasm gap this fall. In the Aug. 2012 NBC/WSJ poll, just 52% of voters under 35 and only 49% of Latinos expressed high interest in the upcoming election, which was down about 20 points for both groups at this same point in ’08.

According to the Elon University Poll, likely voters in North Carolina seem pretty excited. Breaking it down, though, 51% of Romney supporters said they are “very excited,” 44% said they are “pretty excited” and 39% said they are “not that excited.” For Obama, it is 47% very excited, 47% pretty excited and 39% not that excited.

To NBC’s point about an enthusiasm gap, in North Carolina, likely voters between 18-30 have the lowest excitement percentages of any age group. And Democrats are, in fact, less excited by the race than Republicans. (Check out the breakdowns in detail on pages 15 and 16.)

Back to NBC: So this is the opportunity that the Democratic convention represents for the Obama camp and Democrats: maybe a final chance to rekindle some of the 2008 magic. If Mitt Romney had to close his likeability gap at last week’s GOP convention, Barack Obama and the Democrats this week have to close the enthusiasm gap.

— John Robinson

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.