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

Obama’s job performance in N.C.

President Obama’s job approval rate has squeaked up two percentage points, from 39% in February to 41% in April, according to the latest Elon University Poll. The increase is within the 3.7% margin of error so it’s a wash.

A year ago, his approval rating was close to 50%. It has dropped ever since. In November, it was 37%. In September, it was 38%.

Pretty much, thank the Affordable Care Act.

That said his approval rating is higher than Gov. Pat McCrory’s (35%), Sen. Kay Hagan’s (35%) and Sen. Richard Burr’s (34%). On the other side, his DISapproval rate of 49% is higher than McCrory’s (45%) and Burr’s (35%), and the same as Hagan’s.

Digging into the numbers:

Politics — 70% of Democrats approve of how he’s doing his job compared with 34% of Independents and just 4% of Republicans. The significant number, thought, is that in February, 81% of Democrats approved of his job performance. He’s not running for re-election, of course, but that doesn’t help the rest of the ticket.

Gender — 46% of women and 35% of men approve of his work. Since November, he has gained a bit of support among women, but it is within the 3% margin of error.

Race — 83% of African Americans give him a thumbs up, but only 29% of whites. Those numbers have been basically stable since last year.

Age — The 41-50 age group disapproves of the president the most — 58%.

If it’s any consolation – and I doubt it is – N.C. numbers are in line with the rest of the nation.

— John Robinson

Congress approval numbers

After our last poll in February, I asked, “Is it still news that people don’t like Congress?”

The answer then, as now, is no.

Then, 83% of registered voters in N.C. who responded said they disapproved of Congress. Only 8% approved. That’s essentially unchanged from November.

Now, 81% of registered voters who responded said they disapproved of Congress. Only 9% approved. Both are within the margin of error.

It is hardly worth digging into the numbers, but here they are:

Politics — Democrats are fondest of Congress, at 12%, followed by Independents at 9% and Republicans at 7%.

Gender — 10% of men and 9% of women approve of what Congress is doing.

Race — African Americans are big supporters of Congress at 18%. White, only 5%.

Age — 18-30-year olds are most supportive at 19%. The 51+ age group really, really doesn’t like Congress – 5%.

Not that voters will do much about it. Even though most national polls say that people want to “throw the bums out,” that rarely happens. Redistricting basically guarantees safe seats.

— John Robinson


Even more Elon Poll in the news

Daily AdvanceGreenville Daily Reflector and the Robesonian — The latest Elon University Poll finds that just 28 percent of North Carolinians approve of the job the General Assembly is doing. You might think that would worry Republican legislative leaders who control the House and Senate. There’s an election in November after all and the miserably low approval numbers could mean trouble for Republicans at the polls. But it’s almost a certainty that they won’t.

The Federalist — …but Senator Kay Hagan’s approval numbers, if the latest Elon poll is to be believed, are radioactive at just 33%. Thom Tillis, the front runner in the Republican primary, may not be well liked either, but his numbers, infact, even President Obama’s, are healthier than the embattled senator. We forecast a loss approaching ten points for Pryor, and just over five points for Hagan now.

Duke Chronicle — Hagan’s approval rating is at its lowest yet—with only one-third of North Carolina registered voters approving of her job performance, according to the latest Elon University poll. Hagan is the only politician in the poll whose rating dropped since November.

The Pendulum — Last week, the Elon University Poll surveyed people across North Carolina about their opinion on state and national leadership as well as social issues.

Fayetteville Observer — An Elon University poll released last week shows that only a third of N.C. registered voters approve of U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s job performance. And 49 percent, the pollster said, disapprove of her performance. It’s her worst rating in an Elon poll in a year.

More Elon Poll in the news

The Washington Post — There’s good news and bad news for proponents of legalizing marijuana. The bad news: New polls show it’s a losing fight in three states — by a slim margin in Pennsylvania and sizable margins in Iowa and North Carolina. The good news? It’s doing far better among the youngest residents of each state. That’s according to new polls out Monday from Quinnipiac University (Pennsylvania), the Des Moines Register (Iowa) and Elon University (North Carolina).

Fox News — A new poll from Elon University finds Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., only receives 55 percent approval amongst Democrats, down from 63 in November. Overall, 49 percent of Tar Heel state voters disapprove of Hagan. This is Hagan’s fourth straight drop in approval.

N.C. Policy Watch — The latest Elon University Poll finds North Carolinians unhappy with many of the incumbents representing them in Washington and in Raleigh. The February poll found Congress’ approval rating remaining in the single digits (8%). President Barack Obama fared better with an approval rating of 39%, while the majority (over  51%) said they disapprove of the job he is doing.

News & Record — I find it astounding that 38 percent of respondents said they have heard only a little about the coal ash spill into the Dan River that occurred more than a month ago … and 26 percent said they’ve heard nothing.

National Review — North Carolina senator Kay Hagan has seen her approval ratings in the state drop even more — just 33 percent of registered voters approve of the job she’s doing, versus 49 percent disapproving, according to a new poll from Elon University.

Washington Examiner — Approval ratings continue to drop for Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who is seeking re-election in the key battleground state of North Carolina, according to a new poll.

And briefly, oh so, briefly on Politico.

Congress, the N.C. General Assembly remain unloved

Is it even still news that people don’t like Congress?

According to the Elon Poll, 83% of registered voters in N.C. who responded said they disapproved of Congress. Only 8% approved. That’s essentially unchanged from November.

The N.C. General Assembly fares better, with a 28% approval rating. (46% disapprove and 26% don’t know.) Even though the legislature hasn’t been in session for months, that’s a decline of 4 percentage points from November.

The only significant demographic breakout for the state legislature is the one you’d expect – politics. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans approve of the legislature’s work, compared with 25% of Democrats and 22% of Independents. It makes sense, given that the Republicans control the legislature.

When he campaigns for the U.S. Senate, Thom Tillis may want to avoid trumpeting that he is the speaker of the N.C. House.

— John Robinson

Coal ash spill? What coal ash spill?

Last month’s massive coal ash spill into the Dan River received national publicity by the major television networks and, most recently, in the New York Times. It has been written about frequently by all of the major newspapers in the state. Gov. McCrory’s relationship with Duke Energy and the state’s environmental oversight of the power company has been scrutinized.

So, how informed is the N.C. electorate about the spill? Not, according to the Elon Poll.

Sixty-four percent of registered voters who responded to the poll said they had heard little or nothing about the spill.

The demographic breakdown shows little distinction by political party, gender or race. Age, however, is telling. Eighty percent of the 18-30 age group had heard little or nothing about the spill.  Fifty-two percent of the 65+ age group had heard little or nothing about it. Put another way, 20% of the 18-30 age group knew a lot of the spill, and 48% of the 65+ group does.

Presumably it has to do with the news consumption habits of each group. The older demographic reads newspapers and watches more television news.

— John Robinson