HPU Poll: Approval Ratings Remain Low as Public Sees Increasingly Dangerous World

HIGH POINT, N.C., March 2, 2015 – The HPU Poll finds that job approval ratings for public officials and legislatures remain relatively low while the public increasingly views the world as more dangerous for the U.S. and its people.

Almost 9 out of 10 North Carolina residents say that the world is more dangerous rather than safer and 7 out of 10 say that the U.S. should be doing more to stop the advance of the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State, according to the poll.

In the new survey, 43 percent of North Carolina residents approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance. The poll places Gov. Pat McCrory’s job performance at 47 percent.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have job approval ratings of 30 and 27 percent. Many North Carolinians are unwilling to offer an opinion of the two senators. Forty-two percent of North Carolina adults expressed no opinion one way or another on Sen. Burr’s job performance, and more than a third (34 percent) of respondents had said they did not know or refused to comment on the newly elected Sen. Tillis’ performance in office.

Of those individuals and groups rated by the poll, the U.S. Congress fares the worst, earning approval of only 17 percent of North Carolina residents. The North Carolina General Assembly has a job approval rating of 34 percent of North Carolinians.

The majority of North Carolinians continue to prefer an active role for the U.S. in the world and see the world as dangerous rather than safer. A 57 percent majority of North Carolina residents say it is best for the future of the country if the U.S. takes an active part in world affairs. This finding is substantially the same as the 56 percent who said the same thing in a November 2014 HPU Poll. Furthermore, nearly 9 out of 10 (89 percent) North Carolinians say the world is becoming more dangerous for the U.S. and the American people. This is an increase from the 78 percent who responded similarly in the November 2014 HPU Poll.

Seventy-five percent of people interviewed say they had heard a lot about the group that calls itself the Islamic State and operates in Syria and Iraq. A large 71 percent majority of respondents say that the U.S. should be doing more to stop the Islamic State or ISIS from advancing in Syria and Iraq. This is up from 60 percent who responded in the same way to the November poll.

The poll also finds less than one quarter (23 percent) of the same respondents believe the country is headed in the right direction, versus almost two-thirds (65 percent) of North Carolina residents who see the country as being on the wrong track. This is very similar to what the November HPU Poll of 2014 found. That poll reported that 25 percent of North Carolinians believed the country was headed in the right direction, versus 67 percent of North Carolina residents who saw the country as being on the wrong track.

“We are beginning to see differences in how dangerous North Carolinians feel the world is becoming for the U.S. and the American people – up 11 percent in just a few months,” says Brian McDonald, assistant director of the HPU Poll. “Since last November, we have also seen an 11 percent increase in how North Carolinians feel about the U.S. doing more to stop ISIS.”

All adults – Presidential job approval (Late February 2015)

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Barack Obama is handling his job as president?

Approve – 43 percent

Disapprove – 48 percent

Don’t know/refused – 9 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Feb. 21-26, n = 513 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.3 percent)

All adults – Governor job approval (Late February 2015)

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Pat McCrory is handling his job as governor?

Approve – 47 percent

Disapprove – 36 percent

Don’t know/refused – 16 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Feb. 21-26, n = 513 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.3 percent)

All adults – Senator Burr job approval (Late February 2015)

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Richard Burr is handling his job as United States Senator?

Approve – 30 percent

Disapprove – 28 percent

Don’t know/refused – 42 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Feb. 21-26, n = 513 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.3 percent)

All adults – Senator Tillis job approval (Late February 2015)

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Senator Tillis is handling his job as United States Senator?

Approve – 27 percent

Disapprove – 39 percent

Don’t know/refused – 34 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Feb. 21-26, n = 513 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.3 percent)

All adults – Congressional job approval (Late February 2015)

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that the U.S. Congress is handling its job?

Approve – 17 percent

Disapprove – 75 percent

Don’t know/refused – 8 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Feb. 21-26, n = 513 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.3 percent)

All adults – N.C. General Assembly job approval (Late February 2015)

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that the North Carolina General Assembly is handling its job?

Approve – 34 percent

Disapprove – 40 percent

Don’t know/refused – 26 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Feb. 21-26, n = 513 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.3 percent)

All adults – Country direction (Late February 2015)

Do you think things in this country are generally going in the right direction or do you feel things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track?

Right direction – 23 percent

Wrong track – 65 percent

Don’t know/refused – 13 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Feb. 21-26, n = 513 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.3 percent)

All adults – Country direction (November 2014)

Do you think things in this country are generally going in the right direction or do you feel things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track?

Right direction – 25 percent

Wrong track – 67 percent

Don’t know/refused – 8 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Nov. 8-13, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – U.S. role in the world (Late February 2015)

Do you think it will be best for the future of the country if we take an active part in world affairs, or if we stay out of world affairs?

Active part – 57 percent

Stay out – 36 percent

Don’t know/refused – 7 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Feb. 21-26, n = 513 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.3 percent)

All adults – U.S. role in the world (November 2014)

Do you think it will be best for the future of the country if we take an active part in world affairs, or if we stay out of world affairs?

Active part – 56 percent

Stay out – 37 percent

Don’t know/refused – 7 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Nov. 8-13, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – World safer or more dangerous for U.S. (Late February 2015)

Thinking about current U.S. relations with the rest of the world, would you say that the world is becoming safer or more dangerous for the U.S. and the American people?

Safer – 6 percent

More dangerous – 89 percent

Don’t know/refused – 5 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Feb. 21-26, n = 513 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.3 percent)

All adults – World safer or more dangerous for U.S. (November 2014)

Thinking about current U.S. relations with the rest of the world, would you say that the world is becoming safer or more dangerous for the U.S. and the American people?

Safer – 15 percent

More dangerous – 78 percent

Don’t know/refused – 7 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Nov. 8-13, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Heard about ISIS/ISIL (Late February 2015)

How much have you heard about the group that calls itself the Islamic State and operates in both Syria and Iraq? It is sometimes referred to as ISIS or ISIL. Have you heard a lot, a little, or nothing at all?

A lot – 75 percent

A little – 24 percent

Nothing at all – 2 percent

Don’t know – less than 1 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Feb. 21-26, n = 513 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.3 percent)

All adults – Heard about ISIS/ISIL (November 2014)

How much have you heard about the group that calls itself the Islamic State and operates in both Syria and Iraq? It is sometimes referred to as ISIS or ISIL. Have you heard a lot, a little, or nothing at all?

A lot – 68 percent

A little – 26 percent

Nothing at all – 5 percent

Don’t know – less than 1 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Nov. 8-13, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent

All adults – U.S. take more action again ISIS/ISIL (Late February 2015)

Do you think the U.S. government should be doing more to stop the Islamic State or ISIS from advancing in Syria and Iraq?

Yes – 71 percent

No – 21 percent

Don’t know/refused – 9 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Feb. 21-26, n = 513 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.3 percent)

All adults – U.S. take more action again ISIS/ISIL (November 2014)

Do you think the U.S. government should be doing more to stop the Islamic State or ISIS from advancing in Syria and Iraq?

Yes – 60 percent

No – 26 percent

Don’t know/refused – 14 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Nov. 8-13, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Feb. 21-26, 2015. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 513 adults with landline or cellular telephones.  The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire this sample. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.3 percentage points for all adult respondents. The data are weighted toward population estimates for cellular and landline telephone use, age, gender and race. In addition to sampling error, factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls. Details from this survey are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2015/03/36memoA.pdf.

The November survey was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Nov. 8-13, 2014. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 421 adults with landline or cellular telephones. The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire this sample. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.8 percentage points for these respondents. The data are weighted toward population estimates for cellular and landline telephone use, age, gender and race. In addition to sampling error, factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls.

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/. The materials online include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

The HPU Poll reports methodological details in accordance with the standards set out by AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, and the HPU Survey Research Center is a Charter Member of the Initiative. For more information, see http://transparency.aapor.org/index.php/transparency.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald serves as the assistant director of the HPU Poll.

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