HPU Poll: Presidential Approval at 51%, Governor Approval at 52% in North Carolina

HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 9, 2021 – A new High Point University Poll finds adults in North Carolina give President Joe Biden a job approval rating of 51% with approximately one-third (32%) of North Carolina residents saying they disapprove of the job Biden is doing as president. Of that same data, 17% did not offer an opinion either way.

The same HPU Poll respondents give Gov. Roy Cooper a job approval rating of 52% with 31% saying they disapprove. Seventeen percent did not offer an opinion either way. 

More than half (60%) of North Carolinians say the country is off on the wrong track. Approximately one-third (27%) of those same residents say the country is headed in the right direction.

The HPU Poll also reports favorability ratings for the president and former president, U.S. Senators for North Carolina, and North Carolina governor, as well as other major party leaders.

Among U.S. Senators, the HPU Poll finds favorable/unfavorable numbers of 25%/44% for Thom Tillis, 18%/36% for Richard Burr.

For the North Carolina governor and lieutenant governor, the favorable/unfavorable findings were 49%/32% for Cooper and 17%/18% for newly-elected Mark Robinson, for whom almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents did not offer an opinion.

As for the current and former presidents, the approval/disapproval findings were 32%/55% for Donald Trump, and 52%/34% for Biden. Former Vice President Mike Pence receives favorable/unfavorable ratings of 38%/40%, and newly-elected Vice President Kamala Harris has ratings of 46%/38%.

Examining ratings for leaders of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House, the poll finds favorable/unfavorable numbers of 15%/52% for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and 23%/37% for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Finally, there are favorable/unfavorable ratings of 31%/50% for Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

“The most recent HPU Poll asked North Carolina residents to rate major elected officials at the start of this new, post-election season,” says Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct instructor. “These ratings give us insight into how North Carolinians are seeing their elected officials as they begin to work toward their policy goals for the year.”

NC residents – Country Direction (January/February 2021)

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 – 27%

Wrong track – 60%

Don’t know/refused – 13%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Jan. 22 – Feb. 4, n = 917 and credibility interval is +/- 3.4%)

NC residents – Presidential Job Approval (January/February 2021)

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

Approve – 51%

Disapprove – 32%

Don’t know/refuse – 17%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Jan. 22 – Feb. 4, n = 917 and credibility interval is +/- 3.4%)

NC residents – NC Governor Approval (January/February 2021)

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Roy Cooper is handling his job as Governor of North Carolina?

Approve – 52%

Disapprove – 31%

Don’t know/refused – 17%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Jan. 22 – Feb. 4, n = 917 and credibility interval is +/- 3.4%)

NC residents – Favorability Ratings (January/February 2021)

Now I am going read a list of people. For each one, please tell me whether your overall opinion of that person is favorable or unfavorable. If you have never heard of this person, you should say so


  Favorable Unfavorable Neither Don’t know/Never heard of person Refused
Thom Tillis 25% 44% 22% 8% 1%
Richard Burr 18% 36% 29% 16% 1%
Mark Robinson 17% 18% 27% 38% 1%
Roy Cooper 49% 32% 14% 4% 1%
Donald Trump 32% 55% 11% 2% 1%
Mike Pence 38% 40% 17% 4% 1%
Joe Biden 52% 34% 11% 2% 1%
Mitch McConnell 15% 52% 23% 10% 1%
Kamala Harris 46% 38% 12% 4% 1%
Nancy Pelosi 31% 50% 14% 4% 1%
Chuck Schumer 23% 37% 23% 17% 1%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Jan. 22 – Feb. 4, n = 917 and credibility interval is +/- 3.4%)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Jan. 22 through Feb. 4, 2021 and an online survey fielded at the same time. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 917 adults interviewed online (800 respondents) as well as landline or cellular telephones (117 respondents). The Survey Research Center contracted with dynata, formerly Research Now SSI: https://www.dynata.com/ to acquire these samples, and fielded the online survey using the SRC’s 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 3.4 percentage points to account for a traditional 95% confidence interval for the estimates (plus or minus 3.2 percentage points) and a design effect of 1.1 (based on the weighting). The data is weighted toward population estimates for age, gender, and race/ethnicity 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/2021/02/78memoA.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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