Tag Archives: General Assembly

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

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

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

Gov. McCrory’s job approval rating sinks in N.C.

Although they represent different parties, Gov. Pat McCrory and President Obama share the same plight: plunging approval ratings.

Gov. McCrory’s have dropped 7 percentage points since February, when he had been in office for about a month. Now, eight months, a General Assembly session and two vetoes later, his approval rating is at 36 percent. Disapproval: 46 percent.

Digging into the numbers:

Political party: A huge difference. 58 percent of Republicans think he’s doing a good job vs. 18 percent of Democrats. And the dropoff by Democrats has been steep. Last April, 31 percent of Democrats liked his performance (Republicans: 66 percent.)

Gender: 41 percent of men approve vs. 32 percent of women.

Race: 42 percent of whites approve vs. 22 percent of blacks. The dropoff in support among African Americans in the last five months was distinct, too. Last April, he had the support of 49 percent of whites and 40 percent of blacks.

It’s not surprising. The General Assembly passed some dramatic legislation pertaining to abortion, gun control and voting, among other things, and McCrory signed them. He vetoed two bills, which the legislature promptly overturned. Protests began on Mondays at the capital, and attendance grew in number each week, reaching several thousand people.

Meanwhile, McCrory made some public relations missteps, notably saying he mingled with the protesters regularly when he didn’t, and endorsing the high salaries given to political appointees with little experience.

Not to be outdone, the national news media hasn’t been kind to him or the General Assembly.

For his part, Gov. McCrory isn’t giving ground. He often spoken on taking the long view and needing to step on toes to get things done. He can afford it, too, because he’s not up for re-election for three years, and he doesn’t need to work with the General Assembly for another year.

— John Robinson

What’s ahead for the General Assembly: guns, voter ID and fracking

The News & Observer gives a preview of what could be on the General Assembly’s dance card during the session that starts this week. We have polled North Carolina residents on several of the topics.

Gun control —  There was talk that one of the gun bills that surfaced last year would resurface. It would allow people who have permits to carry concealed weapons to take them into establishments that serve alcohol and into parks. Our poll showed that 56% of respondents do not want guns in restaurants or parks.

Voter ID — Watch for the GOP to attempt an override or even seek a compromise to get Democratic support in order to put a law in place before the November election. Our poll showed that 74%of North Carolina residents support the idea of a photo ID requirement before voting.

Fracking — A package of three bills – legalizing hydraulic fracturing, promoting offshore energy exploration, and creating a test program for fuel-producing grasses – will definitely be introduced and likely be approved. Our poll indicated that more than half of N. C. residents don’t know what “fracking” is.
While they’re at it, legislators might work on their own image. Our most recent poll showed that their approval rating is at 31%.
— John Robinson

Support for the voter photo ID law

Last year, the General Assembly passed a bill requiring voters show a photo ID before casting a ballot. Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the legislation, saying it would unfairly disenfranchise voters.

What do North Carolinians think? It’s not even close. Seventy-four percent  support the idea of a photo ID requirement before voting, according to the Elon University Poll. 

There’s a good chance it will come up again next month when the state legislature convenes for its short session. Some Republicans say they have the votes to overturn the governor’s veto.

Requiring a photo ID to vote is a major GOP initiative that has gathered steam across the country. So far this year, nine states have passed voter photo ID laws. Republicans assert that it ensures against voter fraud. Critics say it could hurt voter turnout, particularly among students, African-Americans and elderly people.

The Justice Department has challenged the laws in Texas and South Carolina using its powers under the 1965 Voting Rights Act to review changes to voting laws in states with a history of racial discrimination. Both states are suing the department.

From the Charlotte Observer: In North Carolina, more than 800,000 people statewide don’t have photo identification from the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to a State Board of Elections and DMV analysis. More than a half-million North Carolinians – 556,513 – have no identification at all.

— John Robinson

N.C. residents give the General Assembly failing marks

Listen up, N.C. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger:

The people of North Carolina are not happy with the way the General Assembly is doing business. Not. Happy. At. All.

In the latest Elon University Poll, 53% of North Carolinians said they disapprove of how you are doing your job. Only 27% said they like it. To demonstrate how dramatically you’ve declined in the eyes of your fellow citizens, in response to the same question 11 months ago, 41% disapproved of you and 39% approved.

It’s probably not surprising. After years of Democratic control, both the Senate and the House went over to the Republicans in November 2010. People said the wanted change, and the GOP took them at their word. The legislature grappled with the governor over the budget, over taxes, over education. They slashed costs, which also meant they cut programs that many people liked. They held barely-announced post-midnight sessions to push bills through. They put the same-sex marriage ban amendment on the ballot. In Guilford County, they pushed through a county commissioner redistricting that left 43,000 residents without representation on the board of commissioners. And when confronted with the issue, chose to ignore it.

Who knows how this will play out in the May primary or November general election. But as Mark Binker of the News & Record reported last week, Statewide, 31 of 50 Senate races are contested. Republicans are virtually guaranteed to win 11 seats because there is no Democrat filed. Democrats have a similar guarantee in 8 districts because there is no Republican.

— John Robinson