For more than 20 years, thought leaders, policymakers, and readers have turned to Carolina Journal for the latest news and analysis. We thank you for that trust, and thrive on the daily engagement we have with our readers. Starting in 2024, we are stepping it up with the new Carolina Journal poll. Building on decades of Civitas’ live-caller polling right here in North Carolina, the Carolina Journal poll cuts through messaging to put hard numbers to the truth and trends behind the news.

In January, CJ’s first poll made headlines showing that a solid majority of North Carolinians (60.2%) prefer a school-funding system that ties dollars to the child’s needs, often called “backpack funding,” over the state’s current funding formula. An even higher percentage of teachers (74.7%) would support this change. State-funded Education Savings Accounts enjoy the greatest popularity, with nearly three-quarters (73.6%) supporting them — a marked increase from last January when voter support was 68.8%. The state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) is similarly well-liked, with 64% supporting the program.

School choice poll
CJ poll from 2024 shows voters believe parents should decide where their children are educated.

We also uncovered some public confusion in one of the state’s most popular school choice options, the charter school program. While two-thirds of North Carolinians support charter schools, fewer than half of voters (44.8%) knew that charter schools are considered public schools, and only 46.7% knew that charter schools cannot charge tuition under state law. Still, 59.1% of people would like more charter schools in their area.

What about the overall management of the education system? Well, we found that 64% of respondents want to elect their state Board of Education. Breaking it down, Republicans are more likely to support this change (73%) than Democrats (57%).

What does this mean in 2024? We asked the same thing. The pages here examine the high-stakes election in 2024, who’s running, and what voters are talking about as they head into the primary election on March 5 of this year. The majority aren’t happy with the direction of the country as a whole, even though North Carolina itself has enjoyed higher wages, more growth, and more economic stability over the last decade.

The share of voters who believe the country is on the “right track” has dropped five points from 28.5% in November to 23.5% in January. More than two-thirds of voters believe the United States is on the “wrong track.”

Will this be reflected in this year’s election? It’s likely, and candidates and their teams are working hard to get information and messaging into your hands. We encourage you to read Carolina Journal for the latest, but also to read other sources of information. Check out what’s happening in your local community and who is running for the state legislature and judiciary, read other polls, and weigh the arguments in op-eds of all types. Please add our YouTube show, the Debrief, to your quiver each week for Carolina Journal’s take on the context behind the headlines.

Ultimately, it’s the policy that candidates support that should be the focus, not the flash, the messaging, or the money. An informed consumer of news and public policy is an informed voter and the strength of a free nation.