HPU Poll: North Carolinians Say the Country is still on the Wrong Track

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HIGH POINT, N.C., Nov. 21, 2016 – The HPU Poll’s post-election survey finds only one out of five North Carolinians believes the country is headed in the right direction, and just less than half of those same North Carolina residents approve of how President Barack Obama is doing his job.

Continuing a pattern that has persisted for some time, just 19 percent of North Carolina residents said that the country was headed in the right direction, compared to 71 percent who said it was on the wrong track. This is directly comparable to the 70 percent of North Carolinians who said the same thing the last time the HPU Poll asked the question of the same population (all adults in North Carolina) in February 2016.

North Carolinians continued to be deeply divided on Obama’s performance as president. Forty-seven percent of these North Carolina residents approved of his job performance, while 46 percent disapproved. In February 2016, 44 percent approved of President Obama’s performance in office.

“Despite Donald Trump’s being elected to the presidency, we do not see any change in North Carolinians’ assessments of the direction of the country,” said Brian McDonald, associate director of the Survey Research Center and adjunct instructor. “We may need to wait to see how these North Carolina residents react to the direction of the Trump Presidency.”

The poll also asked which issues North Carolinians thought were the most important problems facing the country. One in five (20 percent) of the respondents said that the economy was most important, followed by 18 percent who named education, 17 percent who said health care, and 16 percent who said government ineffectiveness.

When asked about the most important problems facing the state of North Carolina, almost one third (32 percent) of these NC residents said education, followed by 13 percent who said the economy, 12 percent who said government ineffectiveness and 11 percent who said health care.

Although national security was cited by only 11 percent of respondents as the most important national issue, a majority of North Carolina residents (53 percent) said the U.S. should take an active part in world affairs. More than four out of five (86 percent) of these same respondents said that the world is becoming more dangerous for the U.S. and the American people. Furthermore, although a majority of North Carolinians said that the ability of terrorists to launch a major attack on the U.S. is less and or the same as it was on Sept. 11, 2001, 40 percent said that terrorists now had a greater ability to launch such an attack.

The poll also asked the respondents if they had voted in the 2016 elections. North Carolina residents who said they had voted in the elections were asked several questions about what they took into account when voting. Almost all voters (91 percent) had heard about Hillary Clinton’s email controversy, and about one-third of voters said that it had affected their vote a lot. About two-thirds (65 percent) said they had heard a lot about HB2 – the state law that requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender listed on their birth certificate and limits the types of anti-discrimination ordinances that local governments can pass. About half of voters (52 percent) said that their feelings about HB2 affected their votes for governor a lot.

When asked about how much each of the issues presented in the most important problem list affected their votes, the highest percentages of voters said that health care (75 percent), the economy (74 percent), national security (69 percent), and government ineffectiveness (69 percent) had been very important to them in casting their vote for president.

These same voters said that when voting for North Carolina Governor, the issues of education (72 percent), the economy (65 percent), and health care (60 percent) had been very important in their decision.

“Many voters cast a ballot with particular issues in mind,” said Martin Kifer, director of the HPU Poll and associate professor of political science. “We know that issues were not the only thing on their minds, but these findings give us insight into their policy priorities at the national and state level.”

hpu-poll-country-direction-nov-2016

All adults – Country Direction (November 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 – 19 percent
Wrong track – 71 percent
Don’t know/refused – 10 percent

(All adult (North Carolina residents) sample surveyed November 12-17, n = 481 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

hpu-poll-obama-job-approval-nov-2016All adults – Presidential Job Approval (November 2016)

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

Approve – 47 percent
Disapprove – 46 percent
Don’t know/refused – 8 percent

(All adult (North Carolina residents) sample surveyed November 12-17, n = 481 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – Most Important Problem in the country (November 2016)

Now I am going to read a list of possible problems facing this country today. Please wait for me to read the entire list, then tell me which ONE of these problems is the MOST important facing the country today.

The economy – 20 percent
Education – 18 percent
Health care – 17 percent
Government ineffectiveness – 16 percent
National security – 11 percent
The budget deficit – 9 percent
Immigration – 8 percent
(Don’t know/refuse)- 3 percent

(All adult (North Carolina residents) sample surveyed November 12-17, n = 481 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – Most Important Problem in North Carolina (November 2016)

Now I am going to read a list of possible problems facing the state of North Carolina. Please wait for me to read the entire list, then tell me which ONE of these problems is the MOST important facing the state of North Carolina.

Education – 32 percent
The economy – 13 percent
Government ineffectiveness – 12 percent
Health care – 11 percent
Policing and law enforcement – 9 percent
Taxes – 8 percent
Transportation and infrastructure – 5 percent
Immigration – 4 percent
The size of the state budget – 3 percent
(Don’t know/refuse) – 3 percent

(All adult (North Carolina residents) sample surveyed November 12-17, n = 481 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – Take an Active Part or Stay Out of Foreign Affairs (November 2016)

Now we would like to ask you some questions about foreign affairs issues. 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 – 53 percent
Stay out – 39 percent
(Don’t know/Refuse) – 8 percent

(All adult (North Carolina residents) sample surveyed November 12-17, n = 481 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – Safer or More Dangerous World (November 2016)

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 – 10 percent
More dangerous – 86 percent
(Don’t know/Refuse) – 5 percent

(All adult (North Carolina residents) sample surveyed November 12-17, n = 481 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

All adults – Risk of Major Terrorist Attack (November 2016)

Overall, do you think the ability of terrorists to launch another major attack on the U.S. is greater, the same, or less than it was at the time of September 11th terrorist attacks?

Greater – 40 percent
The same – 29 percent
Less – 28 percent
(Don’t know/Refuse) – 3 percent

(All adult (North Carolina residents) sample surveyed November 12-17, n = 481 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.5 percent)

 

Voters – Hear about Clinton Email Issue (November 2016)

How much have you heard about emails from Hillary Clinton and her State Department and campaign staff that have been posted on the internet?  Would you say you have heard a lot, a little bit, or not much at all?

A lot – 91 percent
A little bit – 5 percent
Not much at all – 4 percent
(Don’t know/Refuse) – 1 percent

(Self-reported sample of November 8, 2016 voters surveyed November 12-17, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

 

Voters – Effect of Clinton Emails on Presidential vote (November 2016)

How much would you say that the issue of Hillary Clinton’s emails affected your vote for president? Would you say a lot, a little bit, or not much at all?

A lot – 32 percent
A little bit – 21 percent
Not much at all – 47 percent
(Don’t know/Refuse) – Less than 1 percent

(Self-reported sample of November 8, 2016 voters surveyed November 12-17, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

 

Voters – Heard about HB 2 (November 2016)

There was a lot of attention in North Carolina’s elections to the law often called HB 2 that requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender listed on their birth certificate and limits the types of anti-discrimination ordinances that local governments can pass.  How much did you hear during the election campaigns about HB 2?  Would you say a lot, a little bit, or not much at all?

A lot – 65 percent
A little bit – 18 percent
Not much at all – 16 percent
(Don’t know/Refuse) – 1 percent

(Self-reported sample of November 8, 2016 voters surveyed November 12-17, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

 

Voters – Effect of Feelings about HB 2 on Gubernatorial vote (November 2016)

How much would you say that your feelings about HB2 affected your vote for Governor of North Carolina?

A lot – 52 percent
A little bit – 15 percent
Not much at all – 30 percent
(Don’t know/Refuse) – 3

(Self-reported sample of November 8, 2016 voters surveyed November 12-17, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

 

Note: For the reported effect of particular issues on vote for president and North Carolina Governor, see the full memo at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2016/11/49memoA.pdf.

 

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Nov. 12 – 17, 2016. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 481 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. That margin of error is 4.8 percentage points for the sample of respondents who said they voted on November 8, 2016.  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/2016/11/49memoA.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, associate 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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