HPU Poll: NC Residents Sour on Divided Government, Partisan Cooperation

HIGH POINT, N.C., March 30, 2015 – A new High Point University Poll finds that compared to four years ago, North Carolina residents are less likely to say that divided partisan control of government is good for the country.

The March HPU Poll finds that when N.C. residents are asked if Republicans controlling the House and Democrats controlling the presidency is good or bad for the country, results are split. Now, one out of five (21 percent) say it is good for the country compared to the 38 percent who say it is bad for the country. Only 26 percent said the same situation in 2011 was bad for the country.

There was also reduced support for Republican cooperation with President Obama compared to when the GOP took control of the U.S. House in 2011. Now, just less than half (48 percent) of state residents say that Republican leaders should try to work with President Obama even if it might disappoint some Republican supporters. In 2011, two-thirds (67 percent) of North Carolinians supported GOP leaders working with President Obama rather than standing up to the President on issues important to Republican supporters.

When asked to rate on a scale of one to five how much of the time they trust the government in Washington, D.C. to do what is right, more than a third of people (34 percent) say “almost none of the time” and approximately 2 percent say “just about always.”

“We have generally found the residents of our state in favor of political leaders working together across party lines. In this case, the support of cooperation has actually taken a significant dip since Republicans took over control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011,” says Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science and director of the HPU Poll. “There are additional clues in the extremely low trust people are expressing for government. This is more evidence that North Carolinians are frustrated with what they see happening in Washington, D.C.”

All adults – Trust in government (March 2015)

Using a five point scale where one means “almost none of the time” and five means “just about always,” how much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right?

1 – Almost none of the time – 34 percent

2 – 28 percent

3 – 28 percent

4 – 5 percent

5 – Just about always – 2 percent

Don’t know/refused – 2 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed March 21 – 26, 2015, n = 574 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.1 percent)

All adults – Divided government, good or bad for the country? (March 2015)

As you may know, the Republicans now control the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate while Democrats control the presidency. Do you think it is good for the country, bad for the country OR does it not really make a difference that the Republicans now control the House of Representatives and the Senate while the Democrats control the presidency?

Good for the country – 21 percent

Bad for the country – 38 percent

Neither good nor bad/doesn’t make much difference – 35 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 6 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed March 21 – 26, 2015, n = 574 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.1 percent)

All adults – Should Republicans work with President Obama? (March 2015)

This year, should the Republicans leaders in Washington… Try as best as they can to work with Barack Obama to accomplish things, even if it means disappointing some groups of Republican supporters? OR should they stand up to Barack Obama on issues that are important to Republican supporters, even if it means less gets done in Washington?

Work with Barack Obama – 48 percent

Stand up to Barack Obama – 41 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 11 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed March 21 – 26, 2015, n = 574 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.1 percent)

All adults – Divided government, good or bad for the country? (January/February 2011)

As you may know, the Republicans now control the U.S. House of Representatives while Democrats control the U.S. Senate and the presidency. Do you think it is good for the country, bad for the country OR does it not really make a difference that the Republicans now control the U.S. House of Representatives while Democrats still control the U.S. Senate and the presidency?

Good for the country – 33 percent

Bad for the country – 26 percent

Neither good nor bad/doesn’t make much difference – 35 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 6 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 3, 2011, n = 450 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.7 percent)

All adults – Should Republicans work with President Obama? (January/February 2011)

This year, should the Republicans leaders in Washington . . . try as best as they can to work with Barack Obama to accomplish things, even if it means disappointing some groups of Republican supporters? OR should they stand up to Barack Obama on issues that are important to Republican supporters, even if it means less gets done in Washington?

Work with Barack Obama – 67 percent

Stand up to Barack Obama – 29 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 4 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 3, 2011, n = 450 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.7 percent)

All adults – Presidential job approval (January/February 2011)

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

Approve – 48 percent

Disapprove – 44 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 8 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 3, 2011, n = 450 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.7 percent)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on March 21 – March 26, 2015. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 574 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 4.1 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/2015/03/37memoA.pdf.

The January/February 2011 HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Jan.31 – Feb. 3, 2011. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 450 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 4.7 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/2013/10/6memo.pdf.

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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