Clinton and Ross Lead Presidential and Senate Races in North Carolina

Democrats Hillary Clinton and Deborah Ross are leading their Republican counterparts in the races for President and Senate in the latest CBS News Poll of North Carolinians.

Clinton holds a 46-42 lead over Republican Donald Trump in the Presidential race. Libertarian Gary Johnson was supported by four percent of respondents and Green Party candidate Jill Stein is polling at two percent.

Trump supporters said they were voting for the Republican more because they disliked Clinton than favored Trump by a 49/39 margin.

Meanwhile, among Clinton supporters, 37 percent said they were voting for Clinton because they supported her, 36 percent oppose Trump and 26 percent were voting for Clinton purely because she was the Democratic candidate.

Those surveyed felt that Clinton was more prepared to be Commander in Chief (51/49) than Trump (37/63).

In the United States Senate Race, Democrat Deborah Ross leads Republican incumbent Richard Burr 41/40. Seventeen percent of those surveyed said they still were not sure who they would support in the Senate race.

North Carolina respondents also said overwhelmingly (66/34) they thought Burr was a “different kind of Republican” than Donald Trump.

The state’s controversial House Bill 2, which advocates maintain is the worst piece of anti-LGBT legislation in the nation, continues to be unpopular with 56 percent of those surveyed saying they oppose the bill, while 36 percent support HB2. Surprisingly, eight percent of respondents said they haven’t heard enough to say whether they support the much-debated law.

It does appear, whoever they will be voting for, North Carolinians will be heading to the polls this November with 60 percent of respondents saying they were more motivated to vote.

The survey was conducted of nearly 1100 likely voters from August 30 – September 2 with a four percent margin of error.

See the full survey results here.

Senate Bill Would Increase Professor Course Load

A recently proposed NC Senate Bill would require all professors in the UNC System to teach at least eight classes per academic year.

This legislation, if passed into law, would especially impact research universities like UNC-Chapel Hill where many professors teach fewer classes in order to conduct research.

UNC Faculty Chair Bruce Cairns says that research is an important part of the university’s mission.

“There’s so much more to being a professor than fulfilling a requirement for four classes a semester or eight classes a year.”

Cairns says university research advances knowledge and helps drive economic development. He adds the proposed legislation invokes questions about the purpose of the university.

“‘What does it mean to have a great global public research university? And what does it mean to provide education, research and service? And how do we combine these elements to help develop the next generation of leaders.’”

Sen. Tom McInnis is the primary sponsor of this bill, SB 593. McInnis issued the following statement to WCHL:

“This bill is the result of countless complaints and conversations from constituents across the 25th Senate district who are upset that their expensive and prestigious college education often lacks instruction from credentialed college professors. My hope is that this bill will generate legitimate debate about the role of professors in the classroom and how they balance research with teaching. I understand the great importance of research at our flagship universities, but that important work shouldn’t result in the short-changing of our students and their learning experience.”

Cairns also says education and research are not mutually exclusive and many students participate with professors in research.

“We have something like, in one year, 3,000 undergraduates produce original research in 140 courses across the spectrum.”

The bill states that professors who teach fewer than eight courses per year would get a pay cut. But a professor could be paid from the constituent university’s endowment fund.

Poll: Nation On The Wrong Track

North Carolina voters aren’t happy with the direction the nation is headed.

The Civitas Institute is a conservative publication, which conducted a poll in late July. In the release of the poll last week, it stated 70 percent of registered North Carolina voters think the United States are on the wrong track compared to the 20 percent that thinks things are heading in the right direction.

In October 2012, the split was 55-40, with the majority still believing the nation wasn’t in the right place.

The number one issue voters said they were concerned about was the economy. In a close second was jobs and unemployment, followed by immigration, health care, and the current government.

Neither political party had the upper hand in the poll. When voters were asked which candidate they would vote for if the election for Congress was held on that date, 43 percent said the Republican and 43 percent said the Democrat.

And, when asked specifically how President Barack Obama is doing—almost at the midway point in his second term—53 percent disapprove while 45 percent approve.

To see a complete breakdown of the poll, click here.

McCrory Threatens Senate Budget Veto

RALEIGH – Gov. Pat McCrory says he’d veto any North Carolina budget plan on his desk that raises teacher pay dramatically like the Senate wants because it would mean huge cuts elsewhere to pay for it.

McCrory told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday he’s not going to risk key government services and allow Medicaid reductions to accept the Senate’s average 11 percent pay offer. The original Senate proposal cut funding for thousands of teacher assistants to pay for it.

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) issued the following statement Thursday:

“I’m disappointed by the governor’s threat to veto the largest teacher pay raise in state history and surprised by his demand for a budget without cuts to teacher assistants and Medicaid – given that his own budget included almost $20 million in cuts to teacher assistants along with significant, though ultimately achievable, cuts to Medicaid.

“The governor has been unable to sustain any of his previous vetoes in the Senate. It would be more helpful for him to work with members of both chambers of the legislature, since his unwillingness to listen to those who have an honest disagreement with him on spending priorities in favor of staging media stunts and budget gimmicks is a major reason the budget has not been finalized.”

The governor is siding with the latest House offer to raises teacher pay on average by 6 percent, up from 5 percent. He says 6 percent is about as far as he can go and feel comfortable.

The two chambers are negotiating budget adjustment for the year that started July 1.

GOP Can Count Ways To Senate Majority


WASHINGTON — Republicans count enough competitive races to challenge Democrats for control of the Senate in next year’s elections. But tea party challenges will make it complicated for them.

Many Republicans worry about crowded primaries in states such as Georgia, Iowa and North Carolina where tea partyers and social conservatives are fighting for the nomination. Some feel tea party victors in similar fights prevented Republicans from winning a Senate majority in 2010 and again in 2012.

Democrats hold an effective 55-45 edge in the Senate now. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to capture control. The numbers favor them. Democrats will be defending 21 of 35 seats to be decided next November. President Barack Obama’s falling popularity and the unpopularity of his health care law also could help GOP candidates.

House GOP Conservatives Help Propel Budget Bill

WASHINGTON — A sweeping vote by conservative Republicans controlling the House and President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies has sent a bipartisan budget agreement to the Senate, where it will encounter stronger but probably futile resistance from the GOP.

The modest package passed by the House would ease the harshest effects of another round of automatic spending cuts set to hit the Pentagon and domestic agencies next month. Supporters of the measure easily beat back attacks on it from conservative organizations that sometimes raise money by stoking conflict within the Republican Party.

Democrats who were upset that the bill does not extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed suppressed their doubts to advance the measure to the Democratic-led Senate, where Obama’s supporters appear set to clear it next week for his signature.

Sen. Hagan’s Fate May Rest In The Hands Of The President

RALEIGH – Public Policy Polling Director Tom Jensen says the 2014 senate race will be greatly affected by the President’s approval rating.

“It’s really kind of amazing,” Jensen says. “Barack Obama’s approval has dropped ten points in North Carolina since September; Kay Hagan’s net approvals has dropped ten points in North Carolina since September. We really are seeing that Obama’s fate is basically dictating Hagan’s fate.”

Democrats are losing points when the Affordable Care Act and its website aren’t working the way legislators said it would. Senator Hagan sent a request to the Obama Administration to launch an investigation into the problems behind the ACA, but Jensen says that hasn’t really helped her numbers.

“She’s not somebody who voters have really strong feelings about one way or the other,” Jensen says. “So, where she ends up in our polls sort of goes up and down depending on other things that are going on politically.”

Jensen says the next 11 months will be crucial for Senator Hagan.

“Really, if it’s a good year for Democrats, Hagan should be fine,” Jensen says. “If it’s a bad year for Democrats, she’s in a lot of trouble. If it’s kind of a neutral year, I think we should expect a pretty close race.”

There are five Republicans vying for the opposition to Senator Hagan. Jensen says the numbers have started to settle, and that over the last three months there’s been a big shift in how the race is looking.

“Kay Hagan is up on Thom Tillis by two points, tied with both Heather Grant and Mark Harris, and down by two points to both Greg Brannon and Bill Flynn,” Jensen says.

Public Policy Polling found 43 percent of voters approve of the job Senator Hagan is doing while 49 percent disapprove.

To see the complete results of the polls, click here.

House Republicans Get Behind Budget Agreement

WASHINGTON — House Republicans are rallying behind a modest budget pact that promises to bring a temporary halt to budget brinkmanship in Washington and ease automatic budget cuts that would otherwise slam the Pentagon and domestic agencies for a second straight year.

President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats also are praising the measure negotiated with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who has morphed, however briefly, from an uncompromising small-government stalwart into a dealmaker eager to claim a partial victory on the budget.

The deal Ryan negotiated with Senate Democratic counterpart Patty Murray would preserve the bulk of tough agency spending cuts the GOP won in a 2011 showdown with Obama, while reducing the chances of a rerun of the partial government shutdown.

It’s set for a vote Thursday.

GOP, Obama Line Up Behind Modest Budget Deal

WASHINGTON — Top Republicans and President Barack Obama are lining up behind a modest but hard-won bipartisan budget agreement that seeks to replace a portion of tough spending cuts facing the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

The deal to ease those cuts for two years is aimed less at chipping away at the nation’s $17 trillion national debt than it is at trying to help a dysfunctional Capitol stop lurching from crisis to crisis.

It would set the stage for action in January on a $1 trillion-plus spending bill for the current budget year.

The measure unveiled by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate counterpart Patty Murray of Washington blends $85 billion in spending cuts and fees to replace $63 billion in cuts to agency budgets over the coming two years.

AP-GfK Poll: Low Approval Of Congress, Obama

WASHINGTON — A new poll finds Americans hold Congress in strikingly low regard as a midterm election year nears. Nearly two-thirds say they would like to see their House member replaced.

The Associated Press-GfK poll finds that elected officials in Washington are not benefiting from the public’s slightly improved view of the economy and their own personal finances.

President Barack Obama’s approval rating is negative: 58 percent disapprove of the job he’s doing, while 42 percent approve.

The low opinions of Congress don’t necessarily signal major power shifts next year in the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate. Many House districts are safe enough to protect incumbents despite public discontent.

Most Americans favor a pathway to legal status for immigrants living here illegally. The House has not approved such a measure.