(Last week), Civitas released its monthly poll of North Carolina politics and it’s brutal for Republicans. It may just be an outlier but the numbers suggest a political environment that’s collapsing for the GOP. The issues on people’s minds favor progressives, Donald Trump’s numbers are sinking and the generic ballot heavily favors Democrats. The political environment has been very unstable but this poll indicates a wave may still be forming.
According to the poll, North Carolina voters believe the country and the state are heading in the wrong direction, a surprising number given the improving economy and voters’ relatively optimistic economic outlook (two-thirds think the economy is staying the same or getting better). The dissatisfaction seems to be more with the people governing. Trump is underwater by 11 points, with a majority holding an unfavorable opinion of him. Thom Tillis is also under water by 11 points, 26-37.
In contrast, voters like Gov. Roy Cooper despite two contentious sessions of the General Assembly now under his belt. Fifty-one percent say they approve of Cooper himself, while only 34 percent disapprove. And by a 22-point margin they approve of the job he’s doing as governor. Cooper’s support can help legislative candidates across the state while Republican leaders might hurt them.
While the poll did not test the legislature, per se, Democrats lead the generic legislative ballot by five points. In addition, voters don’t like the way Republicans are handling education. It’s the most important issue to voters and they believe it’s underfunded and teachers aren’t paid enough. Given Civitas’ conservative bent, the poll fishes for support asking, “In North Carolina, per-pupil spending on public education totals more than $9,100. Do you feel that is sufficient amount of funding to properly educate children?” Still, 56 percent of respondents said that’s too little.
They also found support for teachers in general. Sixty-two percent of people believe teachers were justified closing school to attend a rally. A whopping 85 percent said they were aware of the rally. If education is the driving issue of the campaign, Democrats are well positioned to take advantage of it.
A lot could change between now and November, but, if this poll is not an outlier, the political environment is collapsing for Republicans. They don’t like or approve of the president. They think the most pressing issue, education, has not been handled correctly and, since the GOP controls the legislature, Republicans are easy to blame. The five-point generic ballot is probably understated, because the undecided voters will likely vote against the party in power. This poll has the makings of a wave. We’ll see what next month looks like.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com, a website of commentary and analysis. Originally published at politicsnc.com.