North Carolina voters think the budget that went into effect last month has had a negative impact on the state and as a result the Republicans in the Legislature have now hit a record level of unpopularity, with a majority of voters disapproving of them.
33% of voters approve of the job the Republicans legislators are doing, while 50% disapprove. Those poor numbers are mostly attributable to a 24/52 spread with independent voters. What makes that particularly notable is that on our last statewide poll before the election last year we found that independents were planning to support GOP legislative candidates by a 20 point margin, 51-31. Those voters are clearly having second thoughts now about the outcomes of their choices last fall.
Why have the Republicans hit a record low? There are a couple clues within the questions we asked on the poll. A little more than a month after the new state budget went into effect 45% of voters say they think it's having a negative impact on the state compared to only 14% who think it's making a positive difference. The bad feelings toward the budget cut across party lines. Democrats (49/15), independents (44/14), and even Republicans (38/13) are all more inclined to think the budget is hurting the state than helping it.
Beyond that voters are responding pretty negatively to the new redistricting maps that were approved by the legislature last month. Unsurprisingly 41% of voters expressed no opinion on such an inside baseball topic. But among those who have one only 19% of voters support the new district lines to 41% opposed. Independents oppose them by a 47/20 margin and while Republicans support them, as you would expect, the 33-20 spread is much tighter than the 54-8 one by which Democrats are against them.
Those new boundary lines may be the GOP legislative majority's saving grace though. Democrats lead the generic legislative ballot this month by a 46-42 margin. That margin would certainly result in the party picking up seats if there was an election today, and it would give them a pretty decent chance at taking back control- under the current boundary lines. But the Republicans did such a good job in redistricting that I think it could well take a double digit advantage on the generic ballot for Democrats to win back a majority under these lines and that's only likely to happen in a wave election year on par with 2006. At this point that doesn't look terribly likely to occur last year.
The Republican legislators are extremely unpopular- but one of their unpopular actions could leave them in power for years to come.
Full results here