HPU Poll: North Carolinians Asked If Everyday Issues Have Improved Since 2016 Election

HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 24, 2018 – A new HPU Poll presents mixed findings about how majorities of North Carolinians see several aspects of their everyday lives over the last 18 months and show them thinking different political parties will do a better job dealing with current policy issues.

Majorities of North Carolinians said that in the last year and a half, the employment situation for their families (54 percent), health insurance (51 percent), and amount of money they are paid (50 percent) have stayed about the same. A plurality says that their feelings about the future of our country (49 percent) have actually gotten worse versus a quarter (25 percent) who think those feelings have gotten better. And there is a tight split between North Carolinians who say prices they pay for everyday items have gotten worse (42 percent) and those who say they have stayed about the same (43 percent).

North Carolinians have a wide difference of opinions on whether Democrats or Republicans in Washington, D.C., would do a better job handling education, national security and health care issues. Thirty-nine percent of residents feel Democrats would do a better job with education issues, which is 12 percent higher than the percentage who think Republicans would do a better job. Forty percent of North Carolinians feel Republicans would do a better job with national security, 11 percent more than say Democrats would do a better job handling the issue. And 39 percent of survey participants feel Democrats would do a better job with health care, which is 11 percent higher than those that think Republicans would do a better job.

When it comes to handling the economy, 39 percent of residents believe Republicans would do a better job compared to 30 percent who feel Democrats would do a better job. The other issues tested showed smaller gaps between the parties, including the nation’s energy problems (7 point gap), Social Security (6 point gap), immigration (1 point gap) and government ineffectiveness (tie).

Overall, a majority of North Carolinians (50 percent) still see the country on the wrong track, though a larger fraction now appears to believe that the country is headed in the right direction (40 percent) than in the most recent HPU Poll (http://www.highpoint.edu/blog/2018/03/hpu-poll-trump-at-40-percent-approval-among-north-carolinians/).

“The findings show that North Carolinians as a whole have nuanced views on what is going better or worse, which party is better on particular policy issues,” says Martin Kifer, director of the HPU Poll as well as chair and associate professor of political science. “In this election season, it is interesting to see that the parties appear to have ownership of their traditional issues, but perhaps by smaller margins than in some recent years.”

All adults – Direction of the Country (September 2018)direction

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 – 40 percent

Wrong track – 50 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 10 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) phone and online sample, surveyed Sept. 7-13, 2018, n = 827 and credibility interval of +/- 5.4 percent)

All adults – Everyday Issues (September 2018)

I am going to read a list of several things people have to deal with in their everyday lives.  For each one, let me know if it has gotten better, stayed about the same, or gotten worse in the last year and a half. 


  Gotten Better Stayed about the Same Gotten worse (Don’t know/refuse)
Your health insurance 13 51 31 5
Amount of money you are paid 27 50 19 4
Amount of taxes you pay 20 44 30 6
Employment situation for your family 26 54 17 3
Feelings of safety and security 20 41 37 2
Feelings about the future of our country 25 21 49 5
Prices you pay for everyday items 12 43 42 3


(All adult (North Carolina resident) phone and online sample, surveyed Sept. 7-13, 2018, n = 827 and credibility interval of +/- 5.4 percent)

All adults – Congress: Issue Ownership (September 2018)

Now I am going to read you a list of issues that political parties in Washington, DC might have to deal with.  For each issue, please tell me whether you think the Democratic Party or the Republican Party would do a better job dealing with this issue. What about…?


  Democrats Republicans Difference (Democrats-Republicans) (Both Equally) (Neither) (Don’t know/ Refuse)
Education 39 27 12 16 12 6
National security 29 40 -11 16 8 7
Health care 39 28 11 11 14 7
The economy 30 39 -9 14 10 7
The budget deficit 27 35 -8 13 17 8
The nation’s energy problems 35 28 7 17 10 9
Social Security 35 29 6 15 13 8
Immigration 36 35 1 11 11 7
Trade with other countries 33 34 -1 12 11 9
Government ineffectiveness 27 27 0 18 20 9


(All adult (North Carolina resident) phone and online sample, surveyed Sept. 7-13, 2018, n = 827 and credibility interval of +/- 5.4 percent)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Sept. 7-13, 2018 and an online survey fielded at the same time. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 827 adults interviewed online (606 respondents) as well as landline or cellular telephones (221 respondents). The registered voter subsample relied on responses from the participants about their own registration status and yielded a total of 734 respondents. The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire these samples, and fielded the online survey using its Qualtrics platform. This is a combined sample of live phone interviews and online interviews. The online sampling is from a panel of respondents, so their participation does not adhere to usual assumptions associated with random selection. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assign a classical margin of sampling error for the results. In this case, the SRC provides a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.4 percentage points to account for a traditional 95 percent confidence interval for the estimates (plus or minus 3.4 percentage points) and a design effect of 1.6 (based on the weighting). The data is weighted toward population estimates for age, gender, race, and education level based on U.S. Census numbers for North Carolina. 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/2018/09/60memoA.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, chair and associate professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll and Brian McDonald is the associate director of the HPU Poll.

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