HIGH POINT, N.C., May 25, 2023 – In a new High Point University Poll, a majority of North Carolinians (67%) say they would want a compromise to solve the U.S. debt ceiling problem. Only 21% say it is more important for the president and members of Congress in Washington, D.C., to stick with their principles even if it results in a default on the debt.
About two out of five (43%) North Carolinians say they have heard a lot about the U.S. government hitting the debt ceiling, which is the legal limit of debt the U.S. government can have. Another third (35%) say they have heard a little bit about the debt limit, and only 15% said they have not heard much at all about it.
Over three-quarters (76%) of North Carolina residents say they are very or somewhat concerned about the U.S. government defaulting on its debt and not being able to pay its bills. Only 16% say they are not very or not at all concerned about the U.S. government defaulting on its debt.
Nearly four-fifths (79%) of poll respondents say they are very or somewhat concerned that a default on the debt will harm the U.S. economy. Only 15% of North Carolinians say they are not very or not at all concerned that a default on debt will harm the economy.
Poll respondents were split on which national political party to blame most for the U.S. government reaching the debt ceiling. About one-third (30%) say the Republican party is to blame, a larger fraction (43%) say the Democratic party is to blame, and about a quarter (27%) do not offer an opinion either way.
Inflation Impacts Spending
Inflation is still very much on the minds of North Carolinians. Half (50%) of North Carolina residents responding to the survey say inflation concerns affect a lot of their spending decisions. About one-third (33%) say inflation concerns affect some of their spending decisions, and only 13% say inflation concerns haven’t affected them much at all.
Almost half (47%) of North Carolina residents say the inflation of the past few months has been worse than they expected. About one-third (27%) say inflation has been about as they expected, and only 19% say the inflation has been not as bad as expected.
When thinking about the future, about half (49%) of the poll respondents say they believe inflation will be higher 12 months from now, while one-third (30%) say it will be about the same as now and only 12% say it would be lower.
When asked about five years from now, about two in five (39%) said they believe the rate of inflation will be higher, while about one-quarter (25%) said it will be about the same and 19% said it would be lower.
“It is interesting that about half of the HPU poll respondents think inflation will be higher 12 months from now,” says Daniel Hall, dean of the Phillips School of Business at High Point University. “The Federal Reserve has consistently raised interest rates over the last 14 months to tighten the lending and spending driving inflation. Most forecasters say inflation will remain high but not be higher. Inflation expectations seem to have its own momentum.”
According to this latest poll, the Consumer Sentiment Index shows that North Carolinians’ opinions about the economy and their personal finances remain low, recorded at 62.5. That number hasn’t changed much from when the HPU Poll last reported an index of 63.9 from a March 2023 poll. The HPU Poll’s measure of consumer sentiment is an index that comprises five separate questions asking respondents about different aspects of how they view the U.S. economy and their own personal finances.
“The HPU Poll tracks how North Carolinians feel about their own finances and the current economic climate,” said Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll. “The most recent HPU Poll tracks consumer sentiment in North Carolina decreasing slightly.”
NC residents – Inflation and Spending Decisions (May 2023)
How much have concerns about inflation affected major spending decisions you have made in the new year?
A lot – 50%
Some – 33%
Not much at all – 13%
Unsure – 4%
NC residents – Inflation Expectations (May 2023)
Generally speaking, has the inflation we have seen over the past few months been worse than you expected, not as bad as you expected, or about what you expected?
Worse than expected – 47%
Not as bad as expected – 19%
About as expected – 27%
Unsure – 6%
NC residents – Inflation in 12 Months (May 2023)
Thinking about the future, do you believe inflation will be higher, lower, or about the same 12 months from now?
Higher – 49%
About the same as now – 30%
Lower – 12%
Unsure – 10%
NC residents – Inflation in 5 Years (May 2023)
What about longer term inflation? Do you believe the rate of inflation will be higher, lower, or about the same 5 years from now?
Higher – 39%
About the same as now – 25%
Lower – 19%
Unsure – 18%
NC residents – The U.S. Debt Ceiling (May 2023)
How much have your heard about the U.S. government hitting the “debt ceiling” – the legal limit of debt the U.S. government can have?
A lot – 43%
Some – 35%
Not much at all – 15%
Unsure – 8%
NC residents – Debt Ceiling Blame (May 2023)
Which national political party do you blame most for the U.S. government reaching the debt ceiling?
Republican party – 30%
Democratic party – 43%
Unsure – 27%
NC residents – Concern About Default (May 2023)
How concerned would you say you are about the U.S. government defaulting on its debt and not being able to pay its bills?
Very concerned – 42%
Somewhat concerned – 34%
Not very concerned – 11%
Not at all concerned – 5%
Unsure – 7%
NC residents – Concern About Economy (May 2023)
How concerned are you about a default on the debt harming the U.S. economy?
Very concerned – 51%
Somewhat concerned – 28%
Not very concerned – 10%
Not at all concerned – 5%
Unsure – 7%
NC residents – Debt Ceiling Solution (May 2023)
When it comes to the U.S. debt ceiling, do you think it is more important for the members of Congress in Washington, DC to stick with their principles even if it results in a default on the debt or compromise to solve the problem?
Stick with principles – 21%
Compromise to solve the problem – 67%
Unsure – 12%
May 2023 Consumer Sentiment Index Results:
We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you (and your family living there) are better off or worse off financially than you were a year ago?
Better Off – 21%
Worse Off – 47%
Same/Neither – 30%
Unsure – 2%
Now looking ahead, do you think that a year from now you (and your family living there) will be better off financially, or worse off, or just about the same as now.
Better Off – 28%
Worse Off – 30%
About the same – 35%
Unsure – 8%
Now turning to business conditions in the country as a whole, do you think that during the next 12 months we’ll have good times financially, or bad times, or what?
Good Times – 13%
Bad Times – 37%
Neither – 26%
Good times with qualifications – 8%
Bad times with qualifications – 8%
Unsure – 9%
Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely, that in the country as a whole we’ll have continuous good times during the next five years or so, or that we have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, or what?
Widespread unemployment or depression – 30%
Continuous good times – 14%
Neither/Mix of both – 47%
Unsure – 9%
About the big things people buy for their homes, such as furniture, a refrigerator, stove, television, and things like that. Generally speaking, do you think now is a good time or bad time for people to buy major household items?
Good time – 19%
Bad time – 42%
Neither – 29%
Unsure – 10%
HPU Poll 96 was fielded by the High Point University Survey Research Center on May 12 through May 20, 2023 as an online survey using a panel of respondents recruited and maintained by Dynata. Dynata sent invitations to its panel of N.C. respondents and the SRC collected 1,302 responses on its Qualtrics platform. The SRC did all data analysis. The online sample is from a panel of respondents, and their participation does not adhere to usual assumptions associated with random selection. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assign a classic margin of sampling error for the results. In this case, the SRC provides a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points to account for a traditional 95% confidence interval for the estimates (plus or minus 2.7 percentage points) and a design effect of 1.05 (based on the weighting). The data is weighed toward population estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity and education 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 errors into the findings of opinion polls.
Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past surveys can be found at the Survey Research Center website. 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.
You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter.
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.