Meredith Poll Examines Voter Preferences in the General Election, Understanding of Voting Rights, and Views on Sports Gambling Law

The most recent Meredith Poll, in the field April 11-17, 2024, featured questions about North Carolina voters’ general election preferences, concerns about barriers to voting, knowledge of voting rights for college students and people convicted of felonies, and views on the state’s new sports gambling law.

The poll also covered job approvals for U.S. president and N.C. governor, opinions on political polarization, perceptions of the No Labels party, and the direction of the state and country.

Highlights of the Meredith Poll findings are below. For complete results, view the full report.

General Election Preferences

The Meredith Poll examined the impact of the candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on the presidential race. Kennedy recently submitted petitions to the North Carolina Board of Elections that purport to have enough signatures to qualify him to be listed on the state’s General Election ballot. 

Whether it was Kennedy’s inclusion on the list of choices available to respondents or not, the presidential race in North Carolina has tightened considerably since February. Donald Trump continues to lead in the poll, but his lead is down to just two points over Joe Biden, with Kennedy garnering the support of nine percent of the respondents.

Meredith Poll Director David McLennan states: “In a race between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump that is expected to be close, the impact of Robert F. Kennedy could affect the outcome. The demographic groups that most favor Kennedy–young voters, Black voters, and moderate voters–typically support Democrats like Joe Biden. However, the Trump lead over Biden has been reduced to two percent–inside the confidence interval of the poll. Joe Biden has improved his poll numbers with self-proclaimed Democrats, so with just under 200 days until Election Day, we may see the Kennedy effect as marginal.”

Robinson-Stein Matchup
The general election matchup between Republican Mark Robinson and Democrat Josh Stein has also changed in the Democratic candidates’ favor. Since February, Stein’s lead has grown to nine points over Robinson (from five points). It is significant that Stein is running so far ahead of Joe Biden, suggesting Democrats are not currently being affected by Joe Biden’s poor approval numbers.

Stein’s advantage comes from his support among unaffiliated voters and those who self-identify as politically moderate. Robinson gets a lot of support from conservative voters, as is expected, while Stein does well among liberal voters. The other somewhat surprising finding is that Stein has more support from men and women than does Robinson. 

“Stein’s improved position relative to Robinson may be due to several factors,” said McLennan. “Robinson continues to get negative media coverage of his statements and actions from the past. This enhanced exposure of Robinson’s extreme statements, as well as concerns that some of Robinson’s policy positions, seems to be shifting the unaffiliated voters into Stein’s camp. There are still a significant number of undecided voters (15 percent) as to not cause the Stein campaign to get overconfident.”

Perceptions about Voting Challenges and Knowledge of Voting Laws

Challenges of voting in the past and this year
By and large, most North Carolinians see voting as an easy process. The Meredith Poll asked questions about possible logistical challenges that voters may have faced in the past or could potentially face this year. Most respondents (54%) indicated that they have not faced challenges in the past and 57 percent say they will not face any logistical challenges in 2024.

The one issue that came up most frequently as a past concern, as well as a concern for this year, was uncertainty about where to vote. Ten percent of respondents indicated that was an issue in past elections and twelve percent were concerned about finding their polling place this year.

Two groups of voters–the youngest voters and those with less than a high school diploma–indicated higher levels of concern. About one-in-five of the youngest voters indicated concerns with several issues, like checking their registration status or uncertainty about where to vote. 

“North Carolina’s voting processes are well run by the state and county boards of elections,” said McLennan. “The fact that most respondents indicated they did not expect to have issues with voting, even with presenting Voter ID, indicates the success of the boards of elections in communicating the process to voters.”

Knowledge of Voting Rights for People with Felony Convictions and for College Students

The voting rights of those convicted of criminal felonies is very misunderstood. Only sixteen percent of respondents correctly knew that a person’s voting privileges were restored once they completed their sentence. Almost half (45%) did not know enough to venture a response to the question and 38 percent were wrong in terms of their answers.

The percentage of our respondents who knew that college students could vote in the county of their college or university was higher than their knowledge of the voting rights of felons (50% correct), eleven percent were wrong, and 39 percent simply did not know the answer.

“Although the N.C. Board of Elections is clear in communicating state law on the voting rights of felons and college students, we continue to have a misinformation issue around both,” said McLennan. “On the issue of felon voting, different states have different laws and some states, like Florida, have attempted to change their laws. This may be part of the confusion.”

Policy Issue: Sports Gambling
Just before the ACC men’s basketball tournament began, North Carolinians could begin legally betting on all sports through apps on their mobile devices. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been wagered in the state since then. The Meredith Poll aimed to get an early view of this law by asking people how satisfied they are with the law and if they were concerned about the impact of betting on college athletes.

Nearly half of respondents (49%) indicated they were satisfied with the law, with 18% stating they were very satisfied. One-third of North Carolinians indicated they were not satisfied with the law, and 18% did not know.

Although there were not significant partisan differences in perceptions of the sports gambling laws in the state, there were significant differences in other demographic groups. Many Black respondents were satisfied with the new law, while just over 43 percent of white respondents were. Males indicated significantly higher satisfaction with the law than females.

The percentage of North Carolinians with little or no concerns about the impact of this new law on college athletes slightly exceeded those with concerns (45-40%). Among respondents, men were more concerned than women about the impact of gambling on college athletes and older respondents were more concerned than younger respondents.

“This law has been in effect for less than two months. It may be too early to know of its impact, so now there is not a strong majority either for approving the law or about whether it will have a negative impact on college athletes,” said McLennan.

View the full report

The Meredith Poll conducted a survey of North Carolina registered voters. The online sample–from Qualtrics–used a quota based on the most recent U.S. Census and North Carolina Board of Elections estimates of North Carolina. After the survey was completed, we weighted the survey for gender, party affiliation, geographic location, race and ethnicity, and education so that our sample most closely resembles North Carolina.

The sample had 801 respondents, giving us a confidence interval of +/- 3.5%. The survey was in the field April 11-17, 2024. 

About Meredith Poll
The Meredith Poll asks North Carolinians their opinions on a variety of social and political public issues. It is housed in the Department of History, Political Science, and International Studies at Meredith College, one of the largest women’s colleges in the Southeast. The Meredith Poll was launched in the spring of 2015 as part of Meredith’s commitment to civic engagement.

Melyssa Allen

News Director
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