The newest Meredith Poll surveyed North Carolina voters about their opinions on the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump, who their votes would go to in potential political match-ups, and issues including gun safety laws and the Equal Rights Amendment.
The Meredith Poll surveyed 998 North Carolinians from September 29-October 7, 2019, and found that over 90 percent of state residents were very familiar or somewhat familiar with the allegations of wrongdoing stemming from President Donald Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president this summer. However, only a plurality of North Carolinians—48.2 percent—say that his actions justify an impeachment inquiry, while 41 percent state his actions do not.
As expected, party affiliation is the key factor dividing respondents. A large majority of Democrats —81.5% —favor the impeachment inquiry, while only 13.8% of Republicans feel similarly. Over half of those calling themselves independent—51.1%—favor the impeachment inquiry.
“The division in North Carolina, based on party affiliation, reflects the national mood about impeachment,” said Meredith Poll Director David McLennan. “Most Democrats are urging the House to move forward, while Republicans see the inquiry as more partisan.”
Presidential and Gubernatorial Approval
President Trump’s job approval ratings have fallen to just under 40 percent (39.9%) in the most recent Meredith Poll. In recent administrations of the survey in 2018 and the spring of 2019, the president’s approval averaged 44 percent. Trump’s approval varies widely by party affiliation with 11.3 percent of Democrats saying they approve of the job he is doing as president, while almost three-quarters of Republicans (74.4%) say he is doing a good job. About one-third (33.4%) of those who call themselves independent believe Trump to be doing a good job as president.
“The most significant factor affecting President Trump’s decline in job approval ratings among North Carolinians is his loss of Republican support,” said McLennan. “Up until the most recent Meredith Poll, Trump’s support among Republicans was in the mid-to-upper 80s. The turmoil surrounding the Ukrainian call and move by Speaker Pelosi to start an impeachment inquiry has eroded his support among Republicans.”
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper remains the political figure in the state who citizens think is doing the best job, as his approval ratings remain “above water” with almost half of the respondents (48.6%) approving of the job he is doing with just under a third (32.1%) disapproving his work as governor. Cooper’s job approval numbers remain strong with Democrats (70.2%), but less so with Republicans (34.2%) and independents (45%).
“The governor’s approval ratings have not suffered, despite protracted fights with the Republican leadership in the General Assembly,” said McLennan. “The governor has benefitted from how he handled the preparation for and aftermath of Hurricane Dorian and Democrats appear to be supportive of his fight for Medicaid expansion and his veto of the state budget.”
Potential 2020 Presidential Matchups
In looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election in North Carolina, President Trump polls well against five of his potential Democratic rivals—Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg. The president averages 38 percent support against the five potential Democratic nominees, with Joe Biden running strongest against the president, with 34.8% percent support from North Carolinians.
In every matchup tested, at least 1-in-5 North Carolinians stated they wanted “someone else,” rather than Trump or the listed Democratic candidate. Also, when asked whether people supported President Trump or a name randomly chosen from the phone book, this Trump opponent polled stronger than any of the candidates listed by name.
“President Trump’s potential support in the 2020 election essentially mirrors his approval rating in the state,” said McLennan. “The problem for Democrats in the state is that voters are not excited about their potential nominees and no one runs particularly well against the president at over a year before the election.”
Other 2020 Matchups
The United States Senate race in North Carolina is one targeted by Democrats for a potential pickup. The Meredith Poll results suggest that their optimism may be well deserved. Incumbent Republican Thom Tillis is currently running neck-and-neck with his two main Democratic challengers—Cal Cunningham and state Senator Erika Smith. Tillis is currently running about six percentage points weaker than President Trump runs against his potential opponents in next year’s election.
“Thom Tillis, who won a close election in 2014, has never been as popular in his own party as the senior senator from North Carolina, Richard Burr. Although Tillis has strongly embraced Donald Trump, Trump’s coattails may have limited reach for Tillis as whoever the Democrats nominate appears to have a good chance to defeat the incumbent,” said McLennan.
For the U.S. House of Representatives seats being contested in 2020—all 13 seats—The Meredith Poll asked the “generic ballot” question about whether people favored Democratic or Republican candidates. Although Republican candidates had a slight advantage (41.7% to 39.6%), the results were within the statistical margin of error, demonstrating that the state is very evenly divided on partisan preferences.
“The congressional generic ballot results are not surprising, given the 50-50 nature of North Carolina. However, because the current maps favor Republicans in nine of the 13 congressional districts, we may only see one competitive House race in 2020—the recently decided 9th District in which Dan Bishop won the special election over Dan McCready,” said McLennan.
Most expect the governor’s race in North Carolina to be a matchup between the incumbent, Democrat Roy Cooper, and current Lt. Governor, Republican Dan Forest. With almost 13 months left before Election Day, Cooper enjoys a healthy advantage in the preferences of North Carolinians (45.5%-32.9%)
McLennan stated: “Governor Cooper is the most popular elected official in the state and this helps him in his reelection bid.”
Gun safety laws
Because of the recent discussion of gun safety in response to prominent mass shootings, such as those in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, the Meredith Poll asked people several questions about guns and potential solutions to gun violence.
Most North Carolinians (60.4%) responded to a question about gun ownership by stating that they did not own one or more firearms, while 36.9% responded that they did. More men (45.4%) than women (30.1%) reported owning one or more firearms, while Republicans were almost twice as likely to own firearms than Democrats.
On the question of whether respondents would support a candidate who wanted to implement a buy-back program for assault weapons, North Carolinians were split with 38.6% stating they would be more likely to support such a candidate, 25.3% stating they would be less likely to support a candidate with this position, and 35.3% stating it would make no difference in their support. On this question, unsurprisingly, Democrats were almost three times as likely as Republicans to state that they were more likely to support a candidate who wants to implement a buy-back program for assault weapons.
On the question of the government being able to temporarily remove firearms from someone determined by a judge to be a danger to him/herself or others (commonly referred to as a Red Flag law), over three quarters (76.4%) of the respondents supported this type of law. On this question, support was across all demographic groups, including partisan affiliation with 67.4% of Republicans supporting this type of bill, along with large majorities of Democrats (86.5%) and independents (74.8%).
McLennan stated: “Any law restricting gun ownership tends to be very partisan, but it appears that “Red Flag” laws have more universal support. Whether Congress will pass such laws in today’s political climate is uncertain, but there may be an opportunity in the future to get a bill through Congress and to the president’s desk.”
Equal Rights Amendment
For the last few sessions of the N.C. General Assembly, bills have been filed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and add it to the US Constitution. In the legislature, the bill has not moved out of committee and the same result is likely in this year’s session. This is despite a strong belief that men and women do not enjoy equal rights in our country. A majority of respondents to the Meredith Poll (53.7%) felt that inequality exists, although this a highly partisan issue with almost 70% of Democrats believing this, but only 36% of Republican respondents.
However, on the question of whether the General Assembly should pass the bill ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, over two-thirds (67.4%) of North Carolinians support its passage and only 16.9% oppose it. There were fewer partisan differences on this question than on the previous question about whether inequality exists. On the question of passing the ERA, almost 60% of Republicans favor its passage, while 75.6% of Democrats feel similarly.
“The ERA issue is one that divides the political class more than it does average citizens. Republicans in the General Assembly, for the most part, are not willing to bring the bill up for a vote. Some believe that considering the bill in 2019 is not legal, because the original bill in Congress set a time limit for ratifying the constitution and that time limit has expired. Some don’t believe it is necessary and that the 14th Amendment covers sex discrimination. However, there is a vocal minority of Republicans who simply think the amendment is dangerous,” said McLennan.
In addition to the topics covered in this release, the Meredith Poll asked voters about their comfort with the direction of the country and North Carolina, and about their opinions on the state of the economy. These results are available in the full report.
About The Meredith Poll
The Meredith College Poll conducted a mixed mode sample of 998 registered North Carolina voters from September 29-October 7, 2019. The survey’s margin of error is +/-3%. Meredith College students administer the survey as part of the College’s commitment to civic engagement.