Who do N.C. voters approve of? Not many

Every time we poll, we ask North Carolinians whether they approve or disapprove of various politicians and political bodies. These days, disapproval wins in every time, but one.

* 54% of likely voters in North Carolina disapprove of President Obama’s job performance.  (38% approve.)

* 51% of likely voters in North Carolina disapprove of Sen. Kay Hagan’s job performance. (41% approve.)

* 44% of likely voters in North Carolina disapprove of Gov. Pat McCrory’s job performance. (43% approve.)

* 54% of likely voters in North Carolina disapprove of the General Assembly’s job performance. (31% approve.)

* 83% of likely voters in North Carolina disapprove of Congress’ job performance. (10% approve.)

The one outlier? The one who isn’t running for re-election: Sen. Richard Burr. 37% APProve of his job performance while 32% disapprove.

Hagan leads Tillis

We released a new poll this morning. The news release is here. The long version with demographic breakdowns here.

The major headline is that Sen. Kay Hagan is leading N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis among likely voters, 45%-41%. The lead, however, is within the margin of error.

But there are other tidbits:

* As many as 14% of likely voters are in play.

More women support Hagan, 52%-33%, particularly the single & divorced. More men support Tillis, 50%-38%, particularly those married.

* 85% of African-Americans said they plan to vote for Hagan; 51% of whites support Tillis.

* 38% of self-described independents plan to vote for Hagan; 27% support Tillis.

* Despite her current lead among likely voters, Hagan’s approval rate is upside-down at 51% DISapproval.

* 24% of Tillis supporters ranked international affairs/defense the most important issue to 16% of Hagan supporters.

* 19% of Tillis supporters ranked the economy as the most important issue to 15% of Hagan supporters.

* 17% of  Hagan supporters ranked jobs as most important issue to 6% of Tillis. supporters.

* 17% of Hagan supporters ranked education as most important issue to 2% of Tillis supporter.

* Only 8% of Hagan’s supporters and 7% of Tillis supporters ranked Obamacare as the most important issue.


Richard Burr’s approval rating

Sen. Richard Burr isn’t running for re-election, which is one reason that registered voters express ambivalence to his job performance.

According to the latest Elon Poll, 32% approve of the job he’s doing, 34% disapprove and 33% don’t know. Those numbers are consistent with our polling in February.

The ambivalence isn’t surprising. As a minority member in the Democratic-majority Senate, Burr isn’t the most visible senator. He rarely speaks with the news media and isn’t out front on many issues.

— John Robinson

Thom Tillis’ challenges

Two months ago, the name Thom Tillis was recognized by 38% of respondents in our poll. In the latest poll, he’s turned that around and has a 63% name recognition factor.

Now that he towers over his opponents in the GOP primary, let’s take a moment and assume he’s going to be the GOP nominee to face Sen. Kay Hagan in November.

He has several challenges:

* Of those who recognize his name, 46% don’t know enough about him to express an opinion.

* Of those who recognize his name, 21% think favorably of him, but 32% do not.

* 33% of respondents who said they had an unfavorable impression said that they didn’t like his conservative positions. (13% said they didn’t like his television ads.)

* On the other hand, 34% of respondents who said they had a favorable impression said they liked his conservative positions and think he will do a good job.

You can look behind the numbers here, but the most predominant ones are in the “Don’t Know” category.

The general election is six months out, which is a lifetime in politics. Hagan hasn’t really begun campaigning actively or running many advertisements. As with most elections, the undecideds are up for grabs, but in this case, it is the undecideds AND the voters who don’t know who the candidate is.

— John Robinson

Sen. Kay Hagan’s job approval

As media outlets around the nation have reported, Sen. Kay Hagan is facing some, shall we say, challenges in her re-election bid. Let’s count them:

* Her job approval rate is 35%, according to the latest Elon Poll. It was 33% in February.

* Her job DISapproval rate is 47%, unchanged from February, leaving her in the precarious position of being what the pundits call upside down.

* She voted for Obamacare, and 47% of respondents to the poll said that support would make them less likely to vote for her. 36% said it would make it more likely they would vote for her.

* Looking at the reasons that people gave for disapproving of her job performance are telling: 14% cited Obamacare; 13% a general disagreement of her politics; 8% too close to Obama; 7% a liberal Democrat; and 6% said she doesn’t represent the state’s interests. (Worth noting it was a small sample size.) She can change none of these.

* Most people have seen television ads about Hagan, and most deemed the ads negative. (Worth noting that her leading opponent, Thom Tillis, is advertising heavily in advance of next week’s GOP primary and she is his main target. Hagan has done little advertising until a national Democratic group dropped an ad attacking Tillis last week.)

She does have some campaign advantages. Of those respondents who gave her a favorable approval rating, 19% said she does a good job; 12% said she works for the average person;  8% said they agree with her politics; 6% credit her support for Obamacare.

Digging into the numbers:

Politics — Partisanship solidifies. She has the approval of 60% of Democrats, 31% of Independents and 6% of Republicans. Since February, she has won back support from Democrats (55% then) and lost among Republicans (13%).

Gender: She’s slowly winning back female support, which dropped in February. 33% of men and 36% of women approve of her work. (In February, 33% of women approved and in November, 40% of women had her back. To survive in November, she must have strong support from her core constituency.

Race: 50% of African Americans approve of her, a 7 percentage point drop from February. 29% of whites do, a 3 percentage point gain.

Age: Her greatest support is in the 65+ age group at 45%. Her least support is in the 41-50 age group at 28%. An area of concern must be the 18-30 age group. Her support there dropped from 40% in February to 29% last month.

Hagan has six months to mount her campaign. Many national polls say that people’s views on Obamacare have solidified and will not change. If she is to win, she must find a way to embrace the benefits of the plan or distance herself from her support of it. And she must find a way to make sure her natural constituencies — Democrats, youth and women — get to the polls.

— John Robinson

Greg Brannon and Mark Harris: Who are they?

The biggest surprise in the May 6 GOP Senate primary will be if Dr. Greg Brannon or the Rev. Mark Harris win. Here’s why:

Most people don’t know who they are.

According to the latest Elon Poll, only 21% of respondents recognized Brannon’s name, and 26% recognized Harris’. Of those who had heard of Brannon, most 56%, didn’t know enough about him to have an opinion on him. That figure was 59% for Harris.

While primaries are routinely and unfortunately low turnout affairs, Brannon and Harris will need to get out most of their supporters to get the need 40% to even set up a runoff with Thom Tillis, who has 63% name recognition and is pouring money into television ads.

— John Robinson

Pat McCrory’s job approval rating

Gov. Pat McCrory has a 35% approval rating in N.C., the same as Sen. Kay Hagan but all people are talking about are Hagan’s numbers. Two differences:

+ McCrory’s DISapproval rate is 45% while Hagan’s is 49%.

+ McCrory isn’t running for office this year.

McCrory’s approval standing hasn’t changed much since our last poll in February when it was 36%. It doesn’t seem to be affected by the recent Duke Energy coal ash spill. (McCrory is a former Duke employee, and state regulators have been criticized for going easy on Duke Energy.

Digging into the numbers:

Politics — 56% of Republicans approve of him, compared with 35% of Independents and 18% of Democrats. The numbers are essentially unchanged since February.

Gender: 42% of men support him and 28% of women. Since February, male support has remained consistent, and female support has dipped slightly (3 percentage points, but it is within the margin of error).

Race: 39% of whites support him and 23% of African Americans. His support among whites has remained consistent. His African American support has grown consistently since November when only 12% of blacks approved of him.

Age: His greatest support — 40% — comes from the 41-50 age group. His greatest disapproval rate — 49% – comes from the 31-40 age group.

The biggest news splash involving McCrory has involved the Duke coal ash spill, and, at this point, his poll numbers seem to be weathering the controversy. He has said he is going to get some teachers a raise, which could dampen the Moral Monday protests a bit. The General Assembly returns to work later this month. We’ll see what how they work together.

— John Robinson