The latest Elon University Poll finds that nearly half of North Carolina voters approve of the job Gov. Roy Cooper has been doing since taking office in January, with four in 10 saying that he is doing a better than his predecessor, Pat McCrory.
A majority of N.C. voters disapprove of Congress and the N.C. General Assembly, and are split in their feelings about North Carolina’s two U.S. Senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, with slightly larger segments disapproving of the job each politician is doing in Washington D.C.
Asked about various policies and proposals now being debated in the state legislature, voters are supportive of legislation that would legalize the medical use of marijuana, with 80 percent backing such a proposal, though when it comes to legalizing the drug for recreational use, only 45 percent approve.
In regards to firearms, strong majorities of voters oppose legislation being considered by the N.C. General Assembly to allow gun owners with concealed carry permits to bring firearms onto private property and onto college campuses.
About two-thirds of N.C. voters say that the state is still suffering from the fallout of House Bill 2, the so-called “bathroom bill,” that brought national attention to the state. Sixty five percent say North Carolina’s national reputation is worse than before HB2 was passed into law, while 24 percent say it has stayed about the same.
This final report from the spring Elon Poll also includes voter opinions about how craft brewers should be able to distribute their beer, a potential increase in the legal age to buy tobacco products, the impact of global warming on the N.C. coast and the age at which a person can be tried for a crime as an adult.
The live-caller, dual frame (landline and cell phone) survey of 506 likely voters was conducted from April 18-21. Survey results in this news release present responses from registered voters who were classified as likely voters in the Nov. 8 election and has a margin of error of +/- 4.36 percentage points.
Views of Cooper, other government leaders
Roy Cooper, who took office in January after winning the governor’s mansion by a slim margin, has the backing of 48 percent of the state’s voters, with that support split clearly along party lines. Among Democrats, 70 percent approve of the job he is doing compared to 24 percent of Republicans. Half of independent voters back him. More than half — 52 percent — of Republican voters disapprove of Cooper, compared to 11 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents. One in five of all voters say they don’t know whether they approve or disapprove of the job he’s doing.
“Governor Cooper is clearly enjoying a honeymoon period of public support in North Carolina,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll. “That he is 19 points net positive in an otherwise divided state gives him some leeway to use soft power even as the legal powers of the office have recently declined.”
Cooper enjoys slightly stronger support among black voters, with 54 percent saying they approve of the job he is doing compared to 47 percent of white voters. Baby Boomers — those born between 1945 and 1964 are most likely to approve of Cooper, with 51 percent falling into that camp.
Likewise, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say that Cooper is doing a better job than former Governor Pat McCrory. Seventy one percent of Democrats say Cooper is doing better than McCrory, compared to just 8 percent of Republicans. Black voters were more likely to say Cooper is doing a better job than white voters, and female voters were also more likely to say Cooper’s doing better than his predecessor.
“Governor McCrory had positive approval numbers very similar to Governor Cooper’s when the Elon Poll first asked about McCrory’s job performance in April 2013,” Husser said. “Governors have a tendency to become less popular over time. However, Cooper is currently in a strong position to craft a solid foundation of support in North Carolina.”
N.C. voters largely disapprove of the job the state and federal legislative branches are doing, with Congress receiving lower marks than the N.C. General Assembly. Seventy five percent of voters say they disapprove of how Congress is doing its job, with Democrats and male voters more likely to disapprove. The N.C. legislature fared better, with 54 percent of voters saying they disapprove of the job the General Assembly is doing. Democrats and black voters were more likely to disapprove, but even 38 percent of Republicans disapprove of how the legislature, which is led by members of their own party, is doing its job.
North Carolina’s U.S. Senate delegation — Republicans Richard Burr and Thom Tillis — are not receiving strong job evaluations from N.C. voters. Tillis wins approval from only 29 percent of voters, with 37 percent disapproving of his job performance. Burr’s numbers are evenly split, with 40 percent disapproving of his job performance and 39 percent approving.
“Though Senators Burr and Tillis have approval numbers less robust than their counterparts from less politically diverse states, both are considerably more popular than Congress as a whole,” Husser said.
N.C. voters are clear that they want their elected representatives who represent them in Congress to participate in town hall meetings with constituents on a regular basis. Among all voters, 74 percent say such meetings are “very important,” with Democrats more likely to say it is very important than Republicans. Black voters are also more likely than white voters to say town hall meetings are “very important.”