The Carolina Forward February Poll – Part 2

March 4, 2024

Summary:

  • Cost of living, economy top voters’ list of concerns
  • Private school vouchers still a toxic issue
  • Voters view Republicans as more extreme and beholden to political loyalty

 

North Carolina voters are highly focused on their cost of living, the economy, public safety and education, and almost equally split between which political party they think has their interests in mind. Those are some of the key findings from the February edition of the Carolina Forward Poll, which asked voters a series of questions about their positions on key issues facing North Carolina. Part 1 of the Poll dealt with primary and general election matchups, and in Part 2, we turned to issue and party sentiments.

The cost of living, jobs and the economy, and crime and public safety topped the list of concerns for likely voters. “Defeating wokeness” and “climate change” were the lowest-ranked issues:

North Carolina voters remain deeply opposed to private school vouchers. By a whopping margin, a majority of every measured voter group opposed subsidizing student tuition at private religious schools with taxpayer-funded vouchers, most of them "strongly." This is highly similar to earlier polling on the same issue from 2022:

These findings could present a problem for North Carolina's Republican leaders, who rammed through a massive expansion of private school vouchers in the 2023 state legislative session.

Another issue of widespread voter consensus is paid sick leave and raising the state minimum wage. Commanding majorities of voters agree that they'd support a candidate for office who supported both measures, most of them "strongly." Remarkably, even 45% of Republican voters voters agreed.

The Poll asked voters which political party they felt "cares about people like me." Not surprisingly, results were highly mixed, and almost evenly divided between parties. A slightly larger share of Democrats felt that the Democratic party cares about people like them, compared to Republican voters. Independents broadly felt neither party cares about people like them. An outright majority of non-white voters said they felt Democrats care about them.

The Poll also asked voters which political party they felt aligns with mainstream views on social issues. Exactly half of all voters overall said they felt that Democrats have more mainstream views on social issues, compared to less than a quarter saying Republicans did. Even among Republican voters, only a bit more than a third said that their party aligns with mainstream views. Outright majorities of women, non-white voters, and people in urban and suburban areas said that Democrats hold mainstream views. Remarkably, only among male voters did Republicans break 25% saying they held mainstream views.

Finally, the Poll asked voters which party they felt prioritizes political loyalty over the public interest. Unsurprisingly, results were highly stratified by partisanship, but some interesting patterns emerged nevertheless. Slightly fewer Republican voters than Democratic ones think the opposite party prioritizes political loyalty. Across demographic voter groups, slightly more believe Republicans prioritize political loyalty over public interest than Democrats.

Overall, these results are the product of more than 13 years under an aggressive partisan gerrymander by North Carolina Republicans. Partisan gerrymandering has engineered a Republican party that is highly ideologically extreme, because being in-touch with mainstream voters is simply not necessary - or even a disadvantage - for winning Republican primaries. This has resulted in not only increasing extremism, but a high premium put on political loyalty to the GOP party power structure.

Readers can review full topline results and crosstabs.

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