HPU Poll: Majority of North Carolinians Want President Obama to Replace Justice Scalia

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HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 29, 2016 – A new High Point University Poll finds that majorities of North Carolina residents believe that President Obama should nominate and the U.S. Senate should consider replacements for Justice Antonin Scalia, the recently deceased Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, before the end of Obama’s presidency. The poll also reported North Carolinians’ job approval ratings for public officials and legislatures.

When asked whether President Obama should nominate a replacement, 60 percent of those polled said yes. The poll also asked whether the U.S. Senate should consider President Obama’s nominee – keeping in mind that the U.S. Senate’s Majority Leader had said that the next president rather than President Obama should nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia. Sixty-eight percent of North Carolinians said that the U.S. Senate should consider any nominee.

North Carolinians appeared to be following relatively closely the story of Justice Scalia’s death and President Obama’s decision to nominate a replacement for the U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Fifty-four percent of the survey respondents said they had heard a lot about the story.

“Over half of the poll participants indicated closely following the passing of Justice Scalia,” says Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct professor. “The poll confirms that North Carolinians are supportive of President Obama nominating a replacement. In addition, almost 70 percent are in agreement that the U.S. Senate should consider any nominee of the current administration.”

In the new survey, there were not large differences in job approval ratings from previous surveys for elected officials or government institutions. Forty-four percent of North Carolina residents approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance while 47 percent approve of Gov. Pat McCrory’s job performance.

U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have job approval ratings of 27 and 29 percent, respectively. As the HPU Poll has previously observed, many North Carolinians don’t offer an opinion on the two senators. More than a third (40 percent) of North Carolina adults expressed no opinion one way or another on Sen. Burr’s job performance, and 39 percent of respondents said they did not know or refused to comment on first-term U.S. Sen. Tillis’ performance in office.

Of the individuals and groups included in the poll, the U.S. Congress fares the worst, earning approval of only 17 percent of North Carolina residents. The U.S. Supreme Court earned an approval rating of 46 percent. The North Carolina General Assembly has a job approval rating of 33 percent among North Carolinians.

The poll also finds about one-fifth (21 percent) of the same respondents believe the country is headed in the right direction, versus more than two-thirds (70 percent) of North Carolina residents who see the country as being on the wrong track. This is very similar to what September/October 2015 HPU Poll found. That poll reported that 20 percent of North Carolinians believed the country was headed in the right direction, versus 70 percent of North Carolina residents who saw the country as being on the wrong track.

These observations are similar to those reported in the September 2015 HPU Poll. In September, the presidential approval rating was 41 percent, and the governor’s rating was 38 percent. Sens. Burr and Tillis posted approval ratings of 26 and 29 percent, respectively, and 22 percent of North Carolinians said the country was headed in the right direction. When the poll asked about the U.S. Congress and North Carolina General Assembly in September 2015, their ratings were 17 percent approve and 30 percent approve, respectively.

 

All adults – Heard about Justice Scalia’s Passing (February 2016)

Antonin Scalia, an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, recently passed away. How much, if anything, had you heard about this? Would you say a lot, some, a little bit, or nothing at all?

A lot – 54 percent
Some – 15 percent
A little bit – 10 percent
Nothing at all – 20 percent
(Don’t know/Refuse) – 1 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed February 18 – 25, n = 476 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – President Obama’s Power to Appoint Court Nominee (February 2016)HPU Poll - Nominate New SC Justice - Feb. 2016

Under the U.S. Constitution, the President has the power to appoint U.S. Supreme Court Justices. President Obama has less than a year left in his presidency, but has said he intends to nominate someone to fill Justice Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. Do you think that President Obama should or should NOT nominate someone to fill this seat on the U.S. Supreme Court?

Yes, President Obama should nominate a replacement – 60 percent
No, President Obama should not nominate a replacement – 38 percent
(Don’t know/Refuse) – 3 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed February 18 – 25, n = 476 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – U.S. Senate Consideration of President Obama Court Nominee (February 2016)

Under the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Senate has the power to confirm or reject the President’s Supreme Court nominees. Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, has said that the next President rather than President Obama should nominate the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Should the U.S. Senate consider any nominee that President Obama suggests or should the U.S. Senate not consider any nominees?

Yes, should consider any nominee – 68 percent
No, should not consider any nominee – 29 percent
(Don’t know/Refuse) – 3 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed February 18 – 25, n = 476 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – Presidential Job Approval (February 2016)HPU Poll - Obama Job Approval - Feb. 2016

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

Approve – 44 percent
Disapprove – 47 percent
Don’t know/refused – 9 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed February 18 – 25, n = 476 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – Governor Job Approval (February 2016)

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

Approve – 47 percent
Disapprove – 38 percent
Don’t know/refused – 15 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed February 18 – 25, n = 476 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – Senator Burr Job Approval (February 2016)

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

Approve – 27 percent
Disapprove – 32 percent
Don’t know/refused – 41 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed February 18 – 25, n = 476 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – Senator Tillis Job Approval (February 2016)

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

Approve – 29 percent
Disapprove – 32 percent
Don’t know/refused – 39 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed February 18 – 25, n = 476 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – Congressional Job Approval (February 2016)

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

Approve – 17 percent
Disapprove – 72 percent
Don’t know/refused – 12 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed February 18 – 25, n = 476 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – U.S. Supreme Court Job Approval (February 2016)

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that the United States Supreme Court is handling its job?

Approve – 46 percent
Disapprove – 39 percent
Don’t know/refused – 15 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed February 18 – 25, n = 476 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – N.C. General Assembly Job Approval (February 2016)

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

Approve – 33 percent
Disapprove – 41 percent
Don’t know/refused – 26 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed February 18 – 25, n = 476 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

HPU Poll - Country direction - Feb. 2016

All adults – Country Direction (February 2016)

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 – 21 percent
Wrong track – 70 percent
Don’t know/refused – 9 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed February 18 – 25, n = 476 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Feb. 18 – 25, 2016. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 476 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 4.5 percentage points for all adult respondents. The data is 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/2016/02/44memoA.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 https://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 associate director of the HPU Poll.

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