The latest Carolina Journal poll was a satisfying reminder of the continuing good sense of residents of my adopted home (in great contrast to where I grew up inside the DC Beltway).

Their common sense shone through especially on questions related to economics and the role of government.

With the state anticipating a $1-billion surplus, there are many opinions on why the state raised so much more than it needed and what should be done with that money. The question was clearer for voters — with over half saying the reason for the surplus is that the government taxes too much. Only 37% say it’s because we aren’t spending enough.

Naturally, considering that view, the voters also think the best thing to do in cases when too much has been taken is to simply give the money back to taxpayers. A plurality of 41% chose this option. Only 17% said it’d be better to grow the state budget.

Maybe the most encouraging finding in the poll is that almost two-thirds of voters (64%) said that their recipe for improving the economy is to lower taxes and regulations. Talk about a messaging victory for limited-government proponents and free-market economists everywhere.

The other option was for government to give targeted tax breaks and incentives, which only got 15% support. After a number of high-profile examples of government failing at picking winners and losers, it seems the voters don’t have much confidence in this dynamic and instead favor creating a broad environment that is conducive to success for everyone.

This view also bled into their opinion of funding for NC Innovation, a private organization that helps research from state universities become profitable in the market through private companies. It’s a great idea, but it’s not clear why the state needs to spend $500 million to make this happen. If there is a gold mine of research ready to make businesses wealthy, which I’m sure there is, shouldn’t private capital be eager to fund the project?

Well, the voters largely agreed, with 46% opposing this use of government funds and only 23% supporting it.

With childcare subsidies from COVID finally running out, there has also been a lot of discussion about whether the state government should step in and fill the gap somehow. Only 17% said they should create new subsidies for childcare.

Even though I’d benefit from this, as a father of two in daycare, I think Tar Heel voters were wise to see other options — like tax credits, reducing regulations, and even simply doing nothing — as preferable. It’s important to take care of those who absolutely can’t take care of themselves, but when this reaches into areas that are traditionally the responsibility of the family or community, it grows government dependency.

Law and order is the last area I think voters showed their wisdom. When it came to the pro-Palestine protests across campuses and beyond, North Carolina voters overwhelmingly opposed the tactics of those protesters. In some protests in the state, we’ve seen American flags taken down, roads blocked, and police officers assaulted. Only 13% of voters supported both the cause and the actions of protesters, while the most common response was to support neither, at 41%.

Similarly, nearly two thirds of voters supported proposed legislation to force sheriffs to cooperate with immigration officials. This is common sense. If federal immigration agents want to detain someone in custody locally, why wouldn’t they work together?

So regardless of if a particular race turns out how one wants this November, we should all take comfort in the fact that we live in a state peopled by practical neighbors who want a limited government, law and order, and the ability to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks.