News: CJ Exclusives

Trump approval sliding in N.C., Elon, Spectrum/SurveyUSA polls find

Both polls also asked about Obamacare, NFL protests, and Confederate monuments

President Donald Trump won North Carolina in 2016, but his approval ratings in the state continue to slide, poll data from Elon University and Spectrum News North Carolina show. 

Beginning in 2000, Elon has conducted several annual regional and statewide surveys covering myriad political and cultural topics. Spectrum sponsored the 2017 SurveyUSA election poll, which covers similar issues as the Elon poll, with a few differences. The margin of error for the Elon poll is +/- 3.2 percent, and the credibility interval is +/- 3.8 for the SurveyUSA poll. Both pollsters used land-based telephones and cellphones to reach respondents.

The most recent Elon poll asked 931 registered voters for their opinions of Trump’s performance, congressional action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Affordable Care Act, protests over the actions of NFL players, whether to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces, and the impact of climate change on North Carolina coastal communities.

SurveyUSA asked 800 adults statewide — including 680 registered voters — about the president’s performance, the ACA, and the fate of Confederate monuments. It included questions about North Korea, Russian interference, charter schools, trust in mainstream news, and the performance of Gov. Roy Cooper and the General Assembly. The job performance of North Carolina Republican U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis was also graded by SurveyUSA respondents.

The Elon Poll reports 58 percent of respondents disapprove of Trump’s performance; 34 percent approve. Democrats overwhelmingly disapprove of the president’s performance, with 92 percent disapproving and only 5 percent in support. Republicans approve by a margin of 75-13 percent. Only 34 percent of Independents approve while 57 percent disapprove.

SurveyUSA gave Trump a grade-point average of 1.7 or a C-minus for his job performance. Nearly half — 49 percent — disapproved of Trump’s performance while 37 percent approved. Similar to the Elon poll, approval ratings varied based on political alignment. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans gave Trump’s performance a thumbs up compared to only 15 percent of Democrats.

“As we approach the anniversary of Election Day 2016, the president has lost the support of many of those independent voters,” Jason Husser, the director of the Elon University Poll and assistant professor of political science. “Importantly, we also measured less robust support among voters in President Trump’s own party relative to President Obama’s support last year.”

Of all the Elon poll respondents, 37 percent said Trump is doing worse than they expected. A smaller percentage — 16 percent — said the president is exceeding their expectations. A majority at 45 percent report he is doing as well as they expected

Cooper enjoys higher approval than Trump from North Carolinians, the SurveyUSA poll reports. Forty-five percent approved of Cooper’s performance. The General Assembly has a nearly even split between approval and disapproval at 30 and 32 percent, respectively.

Both the Elon poll and the SurveyUSA poll asked similar questions about whether to remove Confederate monuments and whether to repeal the ACA. Forty-eight percent of Elon poll respondents opposed Republicans’ attempt to repeal Obamacare. For SurveyUSA, 38 percent reported it’s not at all important to repeal it; 30 percent said it is very important. Regarding the fate of the monuments, 49 percent of SurveyUSA respondents suggested leaving the them alone. A majority of Elon Poll respondents — 59 percent — agreed with keeping the confederate monuments standing.

“North Carolina is a big state with very diverse viewpoints,” Husser said. “Though support for specific politicians rise and fall from news cycle to news cycle, my read on North Carolina politics based on this poll and others I’ve conducted is that the Old North State remains a purple state with a slight red tint.”

Other Elon poll findings:

  • 63 percent said Trump should support legislation granting DACA recipients legal status, while 21.5 percent said the president should not.
  • 63 percent disagreed with Trump’s call to fire NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem, while 30 percent agreed with the president.
  • 47 percent said climate change is very likely to have a negative impact on N.C. coastal communities, 29 percent said it is somewhat likely, and 18 percent said not at all likely.

Other SurveyUSA poll findings:

  • Despite Trump’s low approval rating, if the election were held again, Trump would likely defeat Hillary Clinton in a rematch by a 45-43 margin.
  • 35 percent are very concerned about possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, 25 percent are somewhat concerned, 18 percent are not very concerned, and 20 percent are not at all concerned. Two percent are not sure.
  • 29 percent believe the country is heading in the right direction, 61 percent in the wrong direction, and 11 percent are unsure.
  • 37 percent believe North Carolina is moving in the right direction, 41 percent in the wrong direction, and 22 percent are not sure.
  • 13 percent trust mainstream news coverage a lot, 24 percent somewhat, 23 percent a little, 35 percent not at all, and 5 percent not sure.
  • 41 percent support military action to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, 25 percent say it’s not the right time, and 34 percent are unsure.
  • 37 percent believe charter schools are public schools — they are — 44 percent do not, and 19 percent are not sure.
  • 42 percent say charter schools should receive the same amount of funding as traditional public schools, 34 percent disagree, and 24 percent are not sure.