McCrory, Burr ahead in NC races

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest North Carolina poll continues to find a close race for Governor, but Pat McCrory has regained a small lead for the first time since the spring. McCrory’s at 44% to 41% for Roy Cooper. McCrory has the slight advantage thanks to a 42/33 edge with independents, and because he has a more unified party with 76% of Republicans behind him to 70% of Democrats who support Cooper. 

Although McCrory’s horse race numbers have improved, he continues to struggle on the approval front. Only 35% of voters are happy with the job he’s doing to 47% who disapprove, making it 26 months in a row now that his approval numbers have been in negative territory. Meanwhile 49% of voters say they have no opinion about Cooper one way or the other, with 27% rating him favorably to 24% with a negative opinion. McCrory has a 46/34 lead over the other Democratic candidate, Ken Spaulding.

It’s the same old story in the Senate race- Richard Burr continues to have poor approval numbers but leads the potential Democratic candidates who might oppose him. Burr has just a 29% approval rating, with 40% of voters disapproving of him. What really brings his numbers down is how soft he is even with Republicans, who give him only a 47/23 approval spread. 

Nevertheless Burr leads the possible Democratic field- it’s 42/37 over Heath Shuler, 45/35 over Duane Hall, 45/34 over Deborah Ross, and 46/34 over Chris Rey. Shuler has 35% name recognition, compared to around 20% for the trio of other potential contenders and even if he doesn’t run his relative closeness to Burr may indicate the potential for a competitive race once the eventual Democratic nominee does build up some name recognition.

As the General Assembly session dragged on its approval rating got lower and lower. We find just 14% of voters in the state approving of it to 62% who disapprove. Republicans (19/60), independents (13/63), and Democrats (11/63) all give pretty similarly negative reviews to the legislature’s work this year. The unhappiness spreads to both parties though with Democrats in the body getting a 34/46 favorability rating, only nominally better than the 32/50 spread for the controlling Republicans. Democrats lead the generic legislative ballot 45/41 which is a decent standing but nowhere close to the double digits leads they were posting toward the end of the 2013 long session. The level of anger just didn’t reach the same level this time around.

Only 29% of voters approve of the budget that was passed to 38% who disapprove, although 33% with no opinion one way or the other may be a reality check on how closely voters pay attention to this kind of stuff. Only 22% of voters support the state’s move toward partisan judicial elections, with 47% opposed to it. Democrats, Republicans, and independents are all opposed to that change in pretty similar numbers. 

Notes on other issues:

-Thom Tillis continues to be quite unpopular in his first term in the Senate- only 26% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 39% who disapprove. Even with nearly a year gone by now since all the attack ads from last year they still seem to be helping to define his image.

-67% of voters in North Carolina support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, to only 28% who are opposed. It has resounding support from both Democrats (80/13) and independents (65/29), and even a narrow majority of Republicans (51/43). This is something we’re finding to be very popular in state after state after state that we poll on it.

-70% of North Carolinians support increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, compared to just 16% who think it’s fine where it is and 10% who want to eliminate the federal minimum wage altogether. 88% of Democrats, 68% of independents, and even 51% of Republicans support at least that level of increase.

-There continues to be near unanimous support in North Carolina for background checks on all gun purchases, with 89% of voters behind them to only 7% who are opposed. 91% of Democrats, 89% of Republicans, and 87% of independents are in favor of them.

-It will be interesting in our national polling this weekend to see if this dynamic has changed after word of his meeting with Kim Davis, but we found that Pope Francis was considerably more popular with Democrats (66/8) than Republicans (43/29) in North Carolina in the wake of his visit last week. Overall he has a 56/18 favorability rating that certainly any politician would die for.

Full results here

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