Tag Archives: Democrats

The General Assembly’s approval rating is still low but basically unchanged

It’s a good thing that the General Assembly hasn’t been in session for a few months. Its job approval rating has flattened out after a long decline.

In the latest Elon University Poll, 32% of registered N.C. voters said they approved of the way the legislature is doing its job. That’s the same percentage as those who responded in our September poll. 

It also remains the lowest in recent memory

Politics — 50% of Republicans are cool with the legislature, which makes some sense as the GOP controls it. 32% of Independents and 17% of Democrats approve of how the solons are handling the job. In September, it was 52% of Republicans, 30% of Independents and 19% of Democrats.

Gender — A decent split: 39% of men and 25% of women approve. In September, it was 37% of men and 28% of women.

Race — Another decent split: 35% of whites and 21% of blacks approve. In September, it was 35% of whites and 25% of blacks.

Age — The 18-30 year-old group gives the legislature the highest rating at 41%; the lowest — 27% — is registered by the 41-50 age group and those 65 and older.

Explanation: The numbers haven’t changed in any significant way since our poll in September. Makes sense as the General Assembly hasn’t done much to grab headlines.

— John Robinson

Everybody hates Congress

Will the registered North Carolina voters who approve of how Congress is doing its job please stand up?

Based on the latest Elon University Poll, you might be able to fill the Greensboro Coliseum and still have room for a band.

In September, 8% of registered voters in North Carolina said they approve of Congress. (85% disapprove.) That’s down from 14% in September. Thank you, government shutdown. Thank you, health care. Thank you, partisanship.

The disgust with reflected across the board, but for the sake of consistency, let’s’ dig into the numbers:

Politics — Democrats approval: 10%; Independents and Republicans, 7%. In September, Republicans were at 19% to Democrats’ 14%.

Gender — 9% for men and 8% for women.

Race — 12% for blacks and 7% for men.

Age — The highest rating came from the 31-40 age group at 12%; the lowest was the 65+ group at 5%.

Explanation: Do we really need one?

— John Robinson

Sen. Kay Hagan’s approval rating weakens

Despite the bumbling rollout of the healthcare initiative, the federal government shutdown and being targeted by the National GOP for defeat in 2014, Sen. Kay Hagan’s approval numbers among North Carolinians aren’t as bad as you might think.

In the latest Elon University Poll, 37% of registered voters polled in North Carolina said they approved of how she is doing her job vs. 43.5% who said they disapproved. That a drop of 1 percentage point from her approval rating in September.

The bad news is that the percentage of N.C. registered voters who said they disapproved of her went up 8.5 percentage points since September.

Digging into the numbers:

Politics — Not surprisingly, 63% of Democrats support her vs. 32% of Independents and 13% of Republicans. Since September, her support among Democrats has increased and decreased among Republicans. Then, it was 56% of Democrats, 36% of Independents, and 23% of Republicans.

Gender — Again, not surprisingly, 40% of women say they approve of how she’s doing her job vs. 34% of men. That’s essentially unchanged from two months ago.

Race — 53% of African Americans approve vs 31% of whites. Since September, support has increased slightly among blacks and decreased slightly among whites.

Age — The 18-30 year-old age group rates her the highest, at 45%; the 41-50 age group rates her the lowest, at 30%.

Explanation: As a Democrat who supports President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, Hagan’s approval ratings are slipping along with Obama’s and many Democrats in Congress. Her GOP opponents are and will continue to tie her to Obama, which isn’t a bad strategy right now. She is also a member of a once-august body — Congress — that the public doesn’t hold in high esteem.

But in one way, the strategy is moot. Until she has an opponent, the horse race numbers don’t matter.

By the way, Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican NOT up for re-election in 2014, shouldn’t take much for granted.

— John Robinson

North Carolinians support drug testing for welfare recipients

Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed a bill that would require all welfare recipients to submit to drug testing before receiving benefits. He called it “a recipe for government overreach and unnecessary government intrusion.” The General Assembly wasted no time in overriding his veto last month.

It seems as if the General Assembly has its finger on the public pulse this time. In the latest Elon University Poll, 74 percent of respondents supported the idea.

Digging into the numbers:

Political party: 91 percent of Republicans favored it, compared with 75 percent of Independents and 58 percent of Democrats.

Race: 80 percent of whites favored it compared with 51 percent of blacks.

Gender and age had little distinction in their support of the measure.

A point worth noting and, perhaps, smiling about: another poll suggests that North Carolinians think that drug testing should not stop at welfare recipients. A Public Policy Polling poll found this summer that 78 percent of North Carolinians  support mandatory drug testing for members of the General Assembly.

The Legislature didn’t extend the privilege to itself.

— John Robinson

Guns and roses? Not so much

This summer, the North Carolina legislature expanded the places that people with concealed-carry weapon permits could go. It moved quickly through the GOP-dominated General Assembly and was signed by the Republican governor.

But North Carolina residents are not in lock-step with their representatives on this one.

When asked if there should be more legal restrictions on handguns in society, 51 percent agreed and 45 percent disagreed. Democrats, women and African Americans favor more restrictions. All age groups except for 31-40 do, too.

When asked if people with concealed-carry permits should be allowed to carry guns in parks, 53 percent said no and 44 percent said yes. As with the previous question, Democrats, women and African Americans are against allowing guns in parks.

When asked if people with concealed-carry permits should be allowed to carry guns in bars, 73 percent said no and 23 percent said yes. Every demographic group is against allowing guns in bars.

Will anything come of this opposition? Not likely. This isn’t the first time that North Carolinians have told the Elon University Poll that they oppose loosening gun laws.

— John Robinson

Thumbs up for voter ID; thumbs down for the early voting cutback

One of the most controversial pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly pertained to access to voting. What started out as a initiative to require a voter produce a photo ID before casting a ballot morphed into a variety of changes on how, when and where people vote.

Ever since we started asking about the voter ID requirement, N.C. residents have supported it resoundingly. That continued in this month when 70 percent approved and 30 percent opposed.

But when it came to another part of the voting law, North Carolinians haven’t been so supportive. Early voting is one of the more popular initiatives of recent years. N.C. opened selective polls two-and-a-half weeks prior to Election Day to make voting more convenient for busy voters.

Last month, the legislature cut the early voting period by one week. That didn’t sit well with respondents in our poll: 51 percent oppose that change compared with 38 percent who support it.

I won’t dig deeper into the numbers because they pretty much show opposition across the board with one exception: 57 percent of Republicans support the early voting period cutback.

Voter fraud. Voter suppression. Arguments are made from both sides of the aisle as to whether the changes will suppress voting or have no effect. It is pretty clear that all of the voting changes combined are aimed at improving Republican performance at the ballot box. (That’s may simply be evening the scales that have been weighted in favor of Democrats for years.) Whether that will happen is unclear. Actual empirical data is not available or involve too many other variables. It likely will be another year or three before we know the impact of the changes.

— John Robinson

North Carolina is headed in the wrong direction

Republicans took office this January pledging to change the direction that North Carolina was heading. By all accounts, they were successful.

Here’s the bad news: most North Carolinians who responded in the latest Elon University Poll don’t like it.

Fifty-nine percent said the state was headed in the wrong direction, compared with 32 percent who said the course was right. Unfortunately for the GOP, 49 percent blamed the Republicans, compared with just 19 percent pointing the finger at the Democrats. (27 percent blamed neither.)

Could be worse: 70 percent of North Carolinians said that the country was headed in the wrong direction.

Digging into the blame game on the state level:

Political party: 76 percent of Democrats blame Republicans, and 56 percent of Republicans blamed Democrats. Shocking!

Gender: 51 percent of men and 48 percent of women blame Republicans.

Age: 47 percent of 18-30-year olds ranging to 59 percent of 65+ blame Republicans.

Race: 46 percent of whites and 60 percent of blacks blame Republicans.

The dissatisfaction holds across the board throughout the poll as the General Assembly and Gov. McCrory saw their approval ratings drop.

The General Assembly took a number of controversial — and to some, unpopular — steps, including changing voting access, making abortion access stricter, loosening gun control and not giving teachers raises. Thousands rallied in protest every Monday during the spring and summer.

The state came in for damning coverage from the national news media, including editorials in the New York Times and the Washington Post. It’s unclear, though, how much the media coverage impacted the results. When asked if they had heard of the Moral Monday protests, for instance, 39 percent of respondents said they hadn’t.

Of course, it’s more than what happens in Raleigh. The state’s unemployment level is still high. People dissatisfied with Congress and the president are likely to carry their dissatisfaction over to the state level.

Meanwhile, the poll also shows that 29 percent of North Carolinians think the economy will get worse, with 26 percent thinking it will get better and 42 percent saying it will stay the same. (Most Democrats think it will get better or stay about the same; most Republicans think it will get worse or stay about the same.) Hardly a vote of confidence.

Gov. McCrory, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger have said they are proud of the work they did leading the state in a different, more conservative, direction. As people get used to the new legislation and its impacts, the numbers likely will change. Only time will tell in which direction.

— John Robinson

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.


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

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