Category Archives: NC Politics

“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

N.C.: We don’t need to change gun laws

North Carolina is a moderate state, despite efforts by conservatives and liberals to paint it otherwise.

Exhibit One: North Carolinians do not want state gun control laws loosened, according to the results of the latest Elon University Poll. In fact, 44% of respondents the current laws to remain unchanged, and 33% want stricter laws. Fifteen percent want less strict laws.

The relevance? The GOP-controlled General Assembly is expected to introduce legislation this month that permits people with concealed-carry permits to carry firearms into restaurants. On that issue, 56% of respondents in the Elon Poll do NOT want guns in restaurants or parks. (The General Assembly passed legislation last year to permit concealed-carry permit owners to carry firearms in parks.)

But they aren’t anti-gun by any means. Two-thirds of respondents think that gun owners should be able to keep guns locked in their cars while at work, which was also passed last year.

Nationally, according to the Pew Research Center last week, “49% of Americans say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, while 45% say it is more important to control gun ownership.”

— John Robinson

The race for N.C. governor: what’s his name?

The most obvious conclusion from the Elon University Poll on the gubernatorial race? It hasn’t really started yet.

The leading GOP candidate, Pat McCrory? Half of the respondents don’t know enough to have an opinion of him.

The Democrats? Bob Etheridge, who is probably the best known candidate, given his years as State Superintendent of Public Instruction and in Congress, gets 60% on the “don’t know” meter. Sixty-eight percent don’t know enough about Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, and 77% don’t know enough about State Rep. Bill Faison.

It’s no wonder that McCrory isn’t campaigning much. There’s no reason as he’s headed to an easy primary win and should keep his powder dry — and money saved — until after Labor Day.

But the Democrats? Yikes! A week before the poll was in the field, the Democratic candidates debated the issues and each other three times. The debates were televised. Presumably their names were fresh on voters’ minds. Seemingly few of the 640 people we polled watched or were able to draw conclusions about the candidates. Primary Day is a week away and a majority of the population doesn’t know enough about any of the Democratic candidates to have an opinion. Scary. Let’s hope that those who actually show up to vote have an idea.

Interestingly, 57% of respondents told us that they are following the primary closely. Presumably they meant the presidential primary.

— John Robinson

The marriage amendment on the front pages

The marriage amendment got a great deal of ink on the state’s front pages this morning.

Charlotte and Greensboro wrote about how churches are dealing with the issue.

Burlington and Hickory have primers on what the amendment means, along with its political background.

Reminder: The latest Elon University Poll results on the issue.

— John Robinson

North Carolina marriage amendment update

Now that Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee, it appears that the hottest issue to be decided in the North Carolina primary next month is the marriage amendment. Elected boards are taking positions, rallies are being held, yard signs are popping up, and leaders are stating opposition or support.

The latest Elon University Poll results show that 61% of North Carolinians say they oppose an amendment that would prevent any same sex marriages, domestic partnerships or civil unions. The poll is of North Carolina residents, not likely voters. Other polls of likely voters indicate more support for the amendment itself.

Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, explains how the nation’s opinion of same-sex marriage has shifted in the past few years. Majorities of the millennial generation, who were a very small share of the electorate in 2004 when the gay marriage issue rallied the conservative base, have grown in number and have consistently favored. But also, many older Americans have changed their minds. Since 2004, support for gay marriage has increased from 30 percent to 40 percent among baby boomers, and even among seniors (from 18 percent to 32 percent). (On balance, though, most members of this generation remain opposed, at 56 percent.)

The biggest question may well be which side will show up on May 8. The lack of competitive GOP presidential or gubernatorial contests will dampen conservative turnout. On the Democratic side, the presidential ticket is decided, of course, but the gubernatorial nominee isn’t. But that race hasn’t generated much excitement yet. 

Opposition to the amendment is visible on the streets and in letters to the editor columns. Support seems to be centered in churches, but has been much quieter.

— John Robinson

Voter fraud and photo IDs

Today’s Rasmussen Reports survey shows that 64% of likely American voters think that voter fraud is at least a somewhat serious problem.

That fits with the Elon University Poll results released earlier this month in which 74% of North Carolina residents — not necessarily likely voters — said  they support the idea of a photo ID requirement before voting.

Is election fraud a serious problem in North Carolina? Not that anyone has shown. But my sense is that people don’t think there is any significant harm — or obstacle — in showing a photo ID, just in case.

— 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