Rock-Solid Support for Masks, Vaccines and Governor Cooper

October 11, 2021

The latest polling from Carolina Forward shows that voters in North Carolina strongly support mask requirements in schools, a statewide vaccine mandate, and the continued leadership of Governor Roy Cooper. Despite a coordinated campaign against local school boards across the state involving disorder and threats of violence, outbursts like these reflect a loud, distinctly minority view. This polling shows that North Carolina voters firmly support mask requirements by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, which also supports national findings on the same question.

First, when asked about Governor Cooper’s leadership, voters continue to give the Governor high marks on both his handling of the COVID crisis and overall approval:

This reflects a two-point improvement over the Governor’s net approval rating from August, though a six-point slip from his +12 result in April. On his handling of COVID, the Governor’s approval rating slipped 4 points from his +10 rating in April, but still remains solidly net-positive.

Heading into mid-October, North Carolina is on a sharp trend downward for COVID cases throughout the state. Over 17,000 North Carolinians have died from COVID, with hundreds of thousands more infected and sickened. Yet on almost every measure, North Carolina has performed better during the COVID pandemic than comparable states whose leaders have been more resistant to lifesaving precautions – and the voters have noticed.

One of those lifesaving precautions are mask requirements in schools. Recently, angry and disruptive protests have broken out in many school districts opposing school mask requirements (which are strongly advised by nearly all public health experts). Yet these protests express a small, very vocal minority. Exhaustive national polling has consistently shown strong public support for school mask requirements. For the first time, Carolina Forward’s state-level polling has shown that North Carolina is no exception. By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, voters strongly support school mask requirements:

Even more important, these results held up with parents. Among poll respondents with children in K-12 schooling in their household, these results were identical. The presence or absence of children in K-12 schooling had no effect on support for mask requirements. The only respondent group expressing majority opposition to school mask requirements were Republicans.

We also asked about vaccine mandates. Here, as well, voters expressed sound support for making COVID vaccination mandatory for indoor spaces. These results build on Carolina Forward’s earlier polling from May showing overwhelming support for adding COVID vaccination to the mandatory list in certain settings.

All research to date has shown that vaccination is absolutely key to stopping the spread COVID, and for massively reducing the risk of hospitalization or death in case of infection. Like all vaccines, COVID vaccination is not a bulletproof shield, and a small number of so-called “breakthrough” infections are expected and observed. Yet these represent a tiny minority. On the whole, COVID vaccines are extremely effective at preventing infection or illness from COVID, and they are by far the simplest and most effective way that people can protect themselves, their loved ones and neighbors. If you haven’t, please consider getting your shot today.

As the COVID pandemic wears on, it has become increasingly clear that there will be no great elimination of the virus. A culture of misinformation and conspiratorial crank-ism has become entrenched, promoted at times even by some prominent North Carolina leaders. Yet these results should give people hope that voters have not lost their senses. Most people strongly support common-sense measures to inhibit the spread of COVID, understand the value of vaccines, and support Governor Cooper’s steady leadership through the crisis.

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