Democrats Have Edge, Energy in North Carolina For 2018

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PPP’s newest North Carolina poll finds that Democrats lead the generic legislative ballot 46-41 for this fall. Among voters who are ‘very excited’ about voting in this year’s election- which could be a low turnout affair with no Senate or Gubernatorial race at the top of the ballot- the Democratic edge expands to 13 points at 53/40.

The strong position for Democrats is a function of voters being happy with their Democratic Governor and unhappy with their Republican President. 49% of voters approve of the job Roy Cooper is doing to 33% who disapprove. Cooper is actually more popular than he was at this time a year ago when he had a 45/34 approval spread. That’s a big contrast with how his two predecessors fared in their first years in office. Pat McCrory had a 37/47 approval rating in January of 2014 and Bev Perdue had a 30/48 approval rating in January of 2010.

Voters are not happy with the General Assembly. Only 19% approve of the job it’s doing to 51% who disapprove. The Democrats in the legislature aren’t popular, with 39% of voters approving of the job they’re doing to 45% who disapprove. But they’re a lot better off than the Republicans who have only a 35% approval rating with 51% of voters disapproving of them. There’s 59/15 support for nonpartisan redistricting with independents (69/12), Democrats (62/12), and Republicans (45/21) all in favor of it.

While North Carolinians are happy with their Governor, they aren’t happy with their President. Only 42% of voters approve of the job Donald Trump is doing, to 50% who disapprove. Voters blame Trump and the Republicans in Congress over the Democrats in Congress 48/43 when it comes to the government shutdown. 64% of voters in the state support DACA to only 25% who oppose it- that includes 82% of Democrats, 61% of independents, and even 43% of Republicans.

The great policy battles of 2017 don’t play out well for Republicans in North Carolina either. Just 37% of voters favor the tax reform plan that was passed last month, to 42% who oppose it. 57% think the primary beneficiary of it will be the wealthy and large corporations to 32% think it will be the middle class and small businesses.

The health care debate that initially sunk Republicans into a difficult position for 2018 nationally plays out particularly badly for them in North Carolina. 50% of voters in the state now support the Affordable Care Act, to 36% who are opposed. By contrast there is only 31% support for the repeal bill(s) the GOP put forward last year, to 48% who are opposed to them. Given the choice, 61% of voters in the state think Congress should keep the Affordable Care Act in place and makes changes to it as necessary, while just 33% would prefer Congress start over with a new health care law.

North Carolina’s 2 Republican Senators are both unpopular. 31% of voters approve of the job Richard Burr is doing to 43% who disapprove. For Thom Tillis it’s a 28% approval rating with 45% disapproving of him. He was unpopular even when he was elected to office in a lesser of two evils choice for voters in 2014, and nothing in the last 3 years has made him any more popular. His reelection in 2020 is likely to be as much of a top tier race nationally as his initial election in 2014 was.

A lot has changed in North Carolina over the last decade that we’ve been regularly polling the state but there’s one constant: when UNC and Duke play each other in basketball in a couple weeks, 41% of voters will be pulling for the Tar Heels to 31% for the Blue Devils. We’ve never found anything else. There is an interesting political divide with Clinton voters preferring UNC 47/25, while Trump voters prefer Duke 38/35.

Full results here

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