North Carolina Still Behind the Tar Heels

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s annual poll on the UNC/Duke basketball game finds the same thing it has all 8 years the poll has been conducted- residents of the state will be pulling for the Tar Heels on Saturday night. 41% of voters say they’re pulling for UNC to only 27% who support Duke. Those numbers are exactly identical to what we found last year.

This is a rare issue in North Carolina these days where we find Democrats and Republicans in agreement. Democrats (48/25) are pulling for the Tar Heels by a wider margin, but Republicans (38/28) put their support behind UNC as well. 

Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski have identical favorability ratings with North Carolina voters- 48% see them positively to 13% who hold a negative opinion of each of them. Those are numbers that any political figure in the state would die for. One thing that is particularly noteworthy is that fans of UNC and Duke respect the opposing team’s coach. 45% of Duke fans have a favorable opinion of Williams to 25% with a negative one, and an identical 45% of UNC fans have a favorable opinion of Krzyzewski to 25% with a negative one. For all that’s made of the hatred in the rivalry, there’s a good amount of mutual respect between the two school’s fan bases.

One finding on this poll is more important to UNC than whether people are rooting for them in a basketball game this weekend. 57% of North Carolinians say they consider UNC-Chapel Hill to be one of the best public universities in the country to only 19% who say they don’t think it is. Last year when we asked that question it was a 54/21 spread. That indicates the findings from the Wainstein Report haven’t done any further damage to UNC’s image within the state, and North Carolinians still hold it in pretty high regard as an institution. Even among Duke fans a 52/33 majority believes UNC to be one of the best public universities in the country.

Other notes from North Carolina:

-Thom Tillis continues to be the state’s most unpopular politician. Only 29% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 40% who disapprove. Just like Kay Hagan, there’s not much indication that the effect of all the negative ads he was subjected to last year has worn off yet. One thing that can’t have done Tillis any favors was his comments last month about whether restaurant workers should have to wash their hands after using the bathroom. 96% of voters think they should be required to, compared to only 2% who don’t think so. It’s pretty unusual to find 96% of voters in agreement on just about anything.

-One of the issues being considered in the General Assembly right now is nonpartisan redistricting, and we find that 54% of voters in the state are supportive of that to only 13% who are opposed. There is support for the concept across party lines- independents (62/6), Democrats (59/12), and Republicans (42/19) are all in favor of it.

-There continues to be majority support in the state for Medicaid Expansion- 54% of voters support it to 31% who are opposed. It has overwhelming support from Democrats (79/11) and a plurality of independents support it as well (47/35).

-Only 21% of voters in the state agree with the Board of Governors’ decision to close down the UNC Poverty Center. 41% think it should remain open and 38% don’t have an opinion one way or another. Many have speculated it was shut down because Republican leaders didn’t like things Gene Nichol has written about the leadership in Raleigh. We found that only 17% of voters in the state have ever even heard of Nichol (and about 15% of voters will say they’ve heard of just about any name you throw at them on a poll.) So Nichol really isn’t much of a threat to them.

-The General Assembly’s approval rating last month was at a higher than normal 23%, but coming back into town seems to have taken care of that. Now just 18% of voters say they approve of the job it’s doing to 56% who disapprove. The Democrats (-14 favorability at 33/47) and Republicans (-13 favorability at 36/49) are about equally unpopular with voters in the state. Democrats lead the generic legislative ballot 43/42, reflective of the close divide we tend to find in the state.

Full results here

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