Civitas has released a poll just two weeks after the midterm election. Apparently, they’ll continue their monthly polling even in a non-election year. It’s very helpful to those of us who want to understand what’s happening in the state after the ads have stopped running but before the legislature begins enacting policies that might shape the 2020 race.
The poll finds a relatively evenly divided state that’s trending toward Democrats. Whether it’s permanent or not we’ll have to see. Still, the numbers bode well for Roy Cooper and his party heading into 2020.
According to the poll, North Carolinians aren’t happy with the direction of the country but are relatively satisfied with the direction the state is heading. In particular, they are happy with their governor. Roy Cooper has 55% approval rating while only 25% disapprove.
Pluralities of voters believe they voted for Democrats for Congress, 47-43, and the state legislature, 44-40, this year. In contrast, they say that in 2016, they split their votes for Congress evenly among Democrats and Republicans, 43-43. That indicates a conscious shift away from the GOP majority in Congress even though Democrats didn’t pick up any seats in North Carolina.
The state is also evenly divided about Trump. His approval rating is 48%, disapproval rate is 49%. It’s improved since September when he was underwater by eight points, 53-45. However, the people who disapprove of him dislike him more vehemently that those who approve of him. Forty-four percent of people strongly disapprove while only 36% strongly approve.
That 36% reflects Trump’s base in North Carolina since 35% also say they will definitely vote to re-elect him in 2020. Another 36% say they will definitely vote for the Democrat for president and 21% say the Democratic nominee will determine their vote. These numbers tell you why North Carolina and its 14 electoral votes will be in play in two years.
Senator Thom Tillis might have a problem with his re-election if Democrats find a strong opponent. His approval rating is only 34% and his disapproval rating is 32%. He’s not a very well defined politician in the minds of North Carolina voters. Given their current dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, that could pose problems for the state’s junior senator.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest has a long way to go to catch up with Roy Cooper. Forest is term-limited so he will almost certainly run for Governor in 2020. However, nobody knows him. Sixty-six say they’ve never heard of him or have no opinion of him. That should also be a signal to other Republicans that Forest has no lock on the GOP nomination.
The issues also seem to favor Democrats. The tax law that the GOP passed still has limited support and as many people oppose it as favor it. It’s clearly not an accomplishment Tillis or other Republicans can run on.
Obamacare, however, has almost majority support. Fifty percent of voters support it while 45% oppose it. Voters also overwhelmingly want to expand Medicaid by a margin 61% to 26%. That’s a huge reversal for a state that threw the Democrats out of office in 2010 because of the law.
The poll reflects voters attitudes following the midterm. They’re moving toward Democrats and their policies more than they are Republicans and their agenda. Roy Cooper gives Democrats a great head start and a better presidential candidate than Hillary Clinton could easily turn the state blue. That said, the state is still evenly divided and what happens in the legislature and in Congress could shift the state back toward the GOP.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >