News: CJ Exclusives

Civitas Poll tackles N.C. views on abortion and the Electoral College

Civitas Institute President Donald Bryson (left) and WBTV investigative reporter Nick Ochsner (right) discuss the results of the March Civitas Poll during a March 27 luncheon. (CJ photo by Lindsay Marchello)
Civitas Institute President Donald Bryson (left) and WBTV investigative reporter Nick Ochsner (right) discuss the results of the March Civitas Poll during a March 27 luncheon. (CJ photo by Lindsay Marchello)

A new Civitas Institute poll shows a small majority of North Carolina voters describe themselves as pro-life. In a similar split, a small majority of NC. voters favor doing away with the Electoral College.

Donald Bryson, Civitas Institute president, presented on the poll results with WBTV investigative reporter Nick Ochsner during a lunch meeting March 27.

Harper Polling, on behalf of Civitas Institute, surveyed 500 North Carolina voters between March 14-17 in a mix of landline and cell phone interviews. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.38 percent.

The poll asked the voters about their views on two hot-button issues: abortion rights and the Electoral College.

When asked whether they consider themselves as pro-life or pro-choice, slightly more voters described themselves as pro-life. Fifty percent of respondents said they were pro-life, compared to 40 percent who identified as pro-choice. The remaining 10 percent were unsure.

Bryson said the responses unsurprisingly fell along party lines, with Republicans and unaffiliated voters more likely to describe themselves as pro-life and Democrats more like to identify as pro-choice.

“The issue of abortion is alive and well in North Carolina politics,” Bryson said.

In what circumstances should abortions be permitted?

The majority of respondents, 24 percent, said only in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger. Nearly 20 percent said abortion should only be allowed only in cases in which the mother’s life was at risk. Eleven percent said women should be allowed to get an abortion at any point during her pregnancy.

Bryson said some people who identified as pro-life also said abortions should be allowed during certain trimesters of a pregnancy. Similarly, some people who identified as pro-choice said abortions should only be allowed in cases of rape, incest, or where the mother’s life was in danger.

Bryson said the definitions of pro-life and pro-choice are often fuzzy.

The Electoral college has gained media attention lately with several Democratic presidential candidates proposing its abolition. Forty-seven percent of N.C. voters think the Electoral College should be abolished, and the president should be elected via the popular vote. Forty-three percent think the Electoral College should stay, and 10 percent are unsure.

Ochsner said it was surprising to see that 21 percent of President Trump’s supporters wanted to abolish the Electoral College. Trump didn’t win the national popular vote during the 2016 presidential election, but he did earn the most electoral votes.

Had the scenario been switched and Trump had lost the Electoral College vote, Bryson said, it’s likely a majority of Republicans would support switching to the national popular vote.

Despite a majority supporting doing away with the Electoral College, 55 percent opposed a bill to accomplish that goal. A bill proposed in the General Assembly would enter the state into an agreement to elect the president using only the national popular vote. If the state was party to this agreement the state would give all of its electoral votes to the candidate with the most votes nationally, regardless of which candidate had the most votes in North Carolina. Only 29 percent of poll respondents favored the bill.

Ochsner and Bryson theorized this may be the result of voters reluctant to relinquish state sovereignty.