Tag Archives: 2014

General Assembly sinks to new low

In 2009, 55 percent of North Carolina residents who responded to our poll approved of the job the General Assembly was doing.

Last week, just 32 percent of respondents said they did.

That number is the lowest in recent memory and down from 37 percent in April.

Ouch.

It could be the price the state GOP is paying for changing the state’s direction on so many things this spring and summer. Holding a super majority in the Senate and House and with a fellow Republican in the governor’s mansion, the GOP did pretty much what it wanted, including passing controversial laws about abortion, voting rights and guns.

Because the changes were so quick and dramatic, the publicity and protests that accompanied them were loud. Protesters rallied each week in Raleigh and called their events “Moral Mondays.”

Digging into the numbers:

Political party: 52 percent of Republicans approve of the General Assembly’s performance vs. 30 percent of Independents and 19 percent of Democrats.

Gender: 37 percent of men approve vs. 28 percent of women.

Race: 35 percent of whites approve vs. 25 percent of blacks.

It’s unclear whether either House Speaker Thom Tillis or Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger care about the low rating. They both knew their actions in Raleigh were going to be controversial; they have both expressed pride in the direction of the state. Tillis has already declared his candidacy for the 2014 U.S. Senate seat held by Kay Hagan. Berger is reportedly considering the race, too.

From a pragmatic standpoint, the low rating doesn’t mean much. House and Senate seats have been reconfigured to benefit incumbents, who are primarily Republicans. Meanwhile, the voting public will not have an opportunity to voice its opinion until November 2014.

— John Robinson

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Thom Tillis and Phil Berger have challenges

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger have some work to do if either wants to be the next senator from the great state of North Carolina.

In the Elon University Poll, 67 percent of respondents don’t recognize Tillis’ name, and 64 percent didn’t recognize Berger’s name.

And that’s not even the biggest challenge they face.

Tillis, a Republican from Cornelius, has been in the state legislature since 2006 and has served as Speaker of the House since 2011. Berger, a Republican from Eden, has been a senator since 2000 and has been Senate Majority Leader since 2011. Tillis has declared his candidacy for the Senate seat now held by Kay Hagan, a Democrat. Berger hasn’t. Yet.

The general election is more than a year off so there is time to build name recognition.

The steep hill before them is that both men have high unfavorability ratings.

Of those who said they knew Tillis’ name, only 22 percent rated him favorably and 35 percent unfavorably. For Berger, it was 21 percent favorable and 30 unfavorable.

For comparison, Hagan’s job approval rating is 38 percent, and her disapproval rating is 35 percent. So, she’s clearly vulnerable, which state and national Republicans know.

Digging into the numbers:

Tillis: More Republicans have a favorable impression than Democrats (15 percent vs. 11 percent); more men than women (30 percent vs. 15 percent); and more whites than blacks (23 percent vs. 17 percent.)

Berger: More Republicans have a favorable impression than Democrats (34 percent vs. 12 percent) and more men than women (23 percent vs. 18 percent). In something of a surprise, more blacks than whites (24 percent vs. 20 percent).

Again, it’s early. Both men had many, many people who, even though they recognized the candidates’ names, didn’t have an opinion on them.

All of the “don’t knows” can translate into people who don’t associate either man with the actions of the General Assembly. Given the low ratings of the General Assembly, that’s a good thing.

— John Robinson

Hagan, Burr job approval ratings are flat

Sen. Kay Hagan is up for election in 2014, and is expected to face stiff opposition from a Republican opponent AND the national Republican Party which wants BOTH North Carolina senators to represent the Grand Old Party.

And that could happen. But it will take some work.

Both of the best known prospective candidates, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, have their own challenges.

Meanwhile, Hagan’s approval ratings have remained basically steady all year at 38 percent, the same as her Republican counterpart’s, Richard Burr (37 percent). In Hagan’s case, 35 percent of respondents disapprove of her representation of the state’s interest and 26 percent don’t know or have no opinion.

The growing field could give Republicans headaches by forcing the mostly unknown candidates to spend money early instead of saving it for Hagan, whose seat is viewed as a tipping point for GOP Senate control. The party needs to pick up a net of six seats to win the majority.

Digging into the numbers:

Political party: Not surprisingly, 56 percent of Democrats approve of her performance vs. 36 percent of independents and 23 percent of Republicans. The numbers aren’t dissimilar to our results in April.

Gender: 40 percent of females approve vs. 35 percent of males.

Race: 50 percent of blacks approve vs. 34 percent of whites.

Hagan has been a loyal supporter of the Obama administration, but it will be interesting to watch how closely Hagan aligns herself with Obama over the next 13 months. His lagging poll numbers don’t do her any favors.

— John Robinson