NC Voters in New Polls: A Pox, or a ‘Meh’ on Both Houses

By Danny Hooley Posted August 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm

As election day nears, a couple of recent polls confirm what may be obvious to many: North Carolina voters aren’t terribly enthusiastic about their political leaders, from either major party.

On the Republican side, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s voter approval is at 43 percent .

NC House Speaker Thom Tillis fares even worse. His statewide favorability is at 28 percent as he runs for the U.S. Senate.

Incumbent U.S. Senator Richard Burr is largely being ignored, with only 32 percent approval, the same number disapproving, and the rest of North Carolina’s voters not really seeming to care either way.

Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan continues to distance herself from President Obama, perhaps hoping to distance herself as well from his negative rating in her state. Hagan’s a popularity is at 42 percent as she struggles in a close race with Tillis.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, a likely challenger to McCrory in 2016, does not pose a major threat to him so far. Their hypothetical race is currently a one-point toss-up. Forty-two percent of voters don’t even have an opinion about whether he should be impeached for no longer recognizing the state’s Amendment One, which prohibits gay marriage.

The same number opposes impeachment, an idea that was floated by Republican State Senator Norm Sanderson of Carteret County.

Two recent surveys by liberal Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling present hard numbers to express the current voter dissatisfaction and malaise.

“We’ve been one of the unhappiest states in the country now for quite a while,” said PPP director Tom Jensen Friday on WCHL. “Because Sen. Hagan’s never had very good approval ratings, nor has Sen. Burr. Even through Gov. McCrory’s unpopular; Gov. Perdue was even more unpopular. Gov. Easley wasn’t very popular either.

“You about have to go back 14 years to when Jim Hunt was governor, to find any really high-profile politician that voters in the state were particularly enthusiastic about.”

Tom Jensen joined WCHL’s Aaron Keck on the air Friday afternoon.

Jensen said that North Carolina seems to be a tough place for politicians trying to break out and earn longtime voter loyalty.

“For the most part, in this era of polarization, we’re just not seeing a whole lot of people who can generate that appeal to folks across party lines,” said Jensen.

Jensen said that popular politicians in other states tend to keep their base happy, provided that their party has majority support by a least a 25-point margin.

That’s definitely not North Carolina. In a recent TV ad, Sen. Hagan attempts to reach out to moderates on both sides:

“I was so proud when the non-partisan National Journal ranked me the most moderate senator,” Hagan concludes the 32-second spot. “Not too far left, not too far right: just like North Carolina.”

According to one of two North Carolina-related PPP polls released last week, the race between Hagan is tightening. Hagan leads Tillis 42-to-38, and Jensen predicts that Tillis will chip off most of the eight-percent support for Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh as election day nears.

“North Carolina is arguably the most competitive state in the country right now,” said Jensen. “The second closest in the `08 presidential race. Second closest in the 2012 presidential race. Probably going to have the first-or-second-closest senate race in the country this year.”

As Democrats struggle to retain control over the U.S. Senate for the next two years, all eyes will be on North Carolina on election day.

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