Each week, staff at Carolina Journal looks back at the week in N.C. politics and chooses several interesting, relevant stories you may have missed. Here’s this week’s review:
Neck-and-neck polling: It’s a three-way race in North Carolina for the Democratic primary. Polls from Civitas Institute and Public Policy Polling show Michael Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden neck-and-neck. Public Policy Polling surveyed 852 likely Democratic primary voters Feb.23 and Feb. 24, with a plus or minus 3.4% margin of error. Biden polled at 23%, Sanders at 20%, and Bloomberg at 17%. The numbers are much closer with Civitas Institute’s latest tracking poll. Biden, Bloomberg, and Sanders are virtually tied at 20%. Spry Strategies surveyed 561 likely Democratic primary voters Feb. 21–23, with a plus or minus 3.75% margin of error.
War of the news releases: Gov. Roy Cooper is winning in the court of public opinion. At least, that’s what the governor thinks. Actually, the Republican-led General Assembly is winning, if Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow, is to be believed. The governor and the Republican senator have released competing news releases touting a WRAL poll as proof that their side has public support. The poll shows the public supports more funding for public education and expanding Medicaid. The governor has pushed for these issues, and the WRAL poll shows the public is behind him in his battle with the General Assembly, Cooper’s news release said. Not so fast, Brown said. “If this WRAL internet poll is to be believed, the public has a major problem with Governor Cooper talking out of both sides of his mouth,” the Republican senator said. Cooper vetoed a budget that included teacher pay raises, Brown said.
Voter ID: Voter ID should get a full hearing before the N.C. Court of Appeals, Speaker of the House Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said in a news release. Legislative leaders have requested the state Court of Appeals to review a decision from an appeals court panel that reversed an earlier ruling upholding the law. “This liberal, activist appeals court panel was wrong to reverse a bipartisan trial court’s ruling and tread on the will of voters in this state,” Moore said. “The Court of Appeals must grant the request for a full hearing on voter ID given the people’s voice in the democratic process is at stake in this litigation.” A full hearing would include all 15 N.C. Court of Appeals judges. The court has an 8-7 Democratic majority.
Dropout rate: Fewer students are dropping out of N.C. public schools, a news release from the Department of Public Instruction says. Only an executive summary of the Consolidated Data report has been released. A full version of the report won’t be published until next week. “We have been proactively teaching students that there are many different pathways to success. They can earn a credential in high school, join the armed forces, attend community college or, if they want, find success with a four-year degree,” State Superintendent Mark Johnson said in a news release. Students are more engaged when they know their own pathway to success, Johnson said.
Economy polling: Most N.C. voters have a positive view of the national economy, a new poll from Elon University shows. Elon University Poll, in partnership with the News & Observer, Charlotte Observer and the Durham Herald-Sun, surveyed 1,403 N.C. voters from Feb. 10-21. The credibility interval is plus or minus 2.9%. A plurality of voters — 48% — said the nation’s economy has gotten better since 2017, while 22% said it has gotten worse. Twenty-eight percent said it has stayed the same. Respondents were tied at 37% on whether they expect the economy to improve or stay the same, while 22% said they expect it to get worse. A positive view of the economy is good news for President Trump’s re-election campaign, Jason Husser, director of the Elon University Poll, said in a news release, but only under two conditions. “First, that these economic considerations are more important to voters than less-favorably viewed issues like health care. Second, events like a global pandemic won’t cause major economic disruption between now and November,” Husser said.
Health care polling: A majority of N.C. voters are satisfied with their own health insurance, even though 75% gave the health care system a letter grade lower than a B, a Feb. 27 Elon University Poll shows. Forty percent are somewhat satisfied with their health insurance, while 38% are very satisfied. Only 7% aren’t satisfied at all with their health insurance. “We found that a slight majority of voters did want to see more government involvement in the health care system,” Husser said. “However, most North Carolina voters did not want to see major, rapid change to that system, preferring a more gradual approach.” A little more than 50% want to see more government involvement in health care.