HPU Poll: Most North Carolinians Have Responded to the 2020 Census

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The HPU Poll also asked how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect people in responding to the Census.


HIGH POINT, N.C., May 12, 2020 – A new High Point University Poll finds that 76% of North Carolina households say they have received a notice asking them to respond to the Census online. Of those receiving notification, 69% said they have gone online to respond to the Census. Almost all of the respondents (90%) who went online said they completed the entire form and didn’t leave any questions blank because they were too personal in nature.

The first ever HPU Poll asked very similar questions of respondents in April 2010, though completing the Census online was not an option. During that time, 86% said that their household received a Census questionnaire form in the mail, and of those that received it, 93% had completed and returned the questionnaire.

Strong majorities of North Carolinians believe it is important that families are counted in the Census, with 69% saying very important and 23% saying somewhat important. North Carolinians haven’t changed their minds much in the 10 years since the April 2010 poll, when 62% said it was very important and 24% said somewhat important that their family be counted in the Census. 

Almost three-quarters (72%) of North Carolinians think that the Census is worth the money the government is spending on it, while only 18% think it’s a waste of money and 11% offer no opinion. This is a possible shift from April 2010 when the HPU Poll found that 31% thought the Census was a waste of money.

Over half of poll respondents said they have seen television ads (64%) or internet ads (51%) in recent weeks by the Census encouraging citizens to respond. In April 2010, the HPU Poll did not ask about internet ads, but 83% of North Carolinians told us that they had seen television ads encouraging citizens to return their Census forms.

This year, the HPU Poll asked if respondents thought the coronavirus outbreak will make it more or less likely people in their community will respond to the Census. Responses were split almost evenly with 35% saying the coronavirus will make it more likely people will respond, 35% said no difference, and 30% said the coronavirus will make it less likely that people in their community will respond to the Census.

“The 2020 Census launched as many states began to stay-at-home during the pandemic,” says Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct instructor. “According to the HPU Poll respondents, majorities have received and responded to the census online, which is something new to the Census in 2020.”

All adults – Census 2020 (April/May 2020)

This year, the federal government’s Census Bureau is trying to count every person living in the United States for its 2020 Census. Has your household received a notice asking you to respond to the Census online?

Yes – 76%

No – 21%

Don’t know/refused – 3%

(All adult North Carolina resident landline and cell phone sample, surveyed April 16 to May 1, 2020, n = 404 and margin of sampling error is +/- 4.9%)

All adults – Census 2020 Response (April/May 2020)

Did you go online to respond to the Census?

(Asked only of respondents who said they had received a Census notice, n = 307)

Yes – 69%

No – 29%

Don’t know/refused – 2%

(All adult North Carolina resident landline and cell phone sample, surveyed April 16 to May 1, 2020, n = 404 and margin of sampling error is +/- 4.9%)

Did you leave any questions on the Census form blank because you thought they were too personal in nature?

(Asked only of respondents who said they had already responded online, n = 212)

Yes – 2%

No – 90%

Don’t know/refused – 8%

(All adult North Carolina resident landline and cell phone sample, surveyed April 16 to May 1, 2020, n = 404 and margin of sampling error is +/- 4.9%)

All adults – Census 2020 Importance (April/May 2020)

How important would you say it is that you and your family are counted in the Census: very important, somewhat important, or not very important?

Very Important – 69%

Somewhat Important – 23%

Not Very Important – 6%

Don’t know/refused – 2%

(All adult North Carolina resident landline and cell phone sample, surveyed April 16 to May 1, 2020, n = 404 and margin of sampling error is +/- 4.9%)

All adults – Census 2020 Worthiness (April/May 2020)

Do you think the Census is worth the money the government is spending on it, or do you think it’s a waste of money?

The Census is worth the money – 72%

The Census is a waste of money – 18%

Don’t know/refused – 11%

(All adult North Carolina resident landline and cell phone sample, surveyed April 16 to May 1, 2020, n = 404 and margin of sampling error is +/- 4.9%)

All adults – Census 2020 Advertisements (April/May 2020)

Have you happened to see any television ads in recent weeks by the Census encouraging citizens to respond to the Census, or have you not seen these ads?

Yes, I have seen ads – 64%

No, I have not seen ads – 35%

Don’t know/refused – 2%

(All adult North Carolina resident landline and cell phone sample, surveyed April 16 to May 1, 2020, n = 404 and margin of sampling error is +/- 4.9%)

All adults – Census 2020 Internet Advertisements (April/May 2020)

Have you happened to see any online internet ads in recent weeks by the Census encouraging citizens to respond to the Census, or have you not seen these ads?

Yes, I have seen internet ads – 51%

No, I have not seen internet ads – 45%

Don’t know/refused – 3%

(All adult North Carolina resident landline and cell phone sample, surveyed April 16 to May 1, 2020, n = 404 and margin of sampling error is +/- 4.9%)

All adults – Census 2020 and the Coronavirus (April/May 2020)

Do you think the coronavirus outbreak will make it more or less likely people in your community will respond to the Census?

More likely – 35%

No difference – 35%

Less likely – 30%

Don’t know/refused – 0%

(All adult North Carolina resident landline and cell phone sample, surveyed April 16 to May 1, 2020, n = 404 and margin of sampling error is +/- 4.9%)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers working remotely through the High Point University Survey Research Center, calling on April 16 – May 1. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 404 adults interviewed on landline or cellular telephones. The Survey Research Center contracted with dynata, formerly Research Now SSI: https://www.dynata.com/ to acquire these samples. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.9 percentage points for all adult respondents. The data is weighted toward population estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity, 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/2020/05/71memoA.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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