May 9, 2024

RALEIGH – The race for North Carolina’s top office has once again narrowed. Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson’s support among likely North Carolina voters is down .7 points from last month and approximately 4.5% since March. Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Stein’s support has held fairly steady between 37.9% to 39.1% over the same period. Robinson and Stein’s support stand at 39.2% and 39.1%, respectively. This narrows Robinson’s lead in the race from 4.8 points in March to a mere .1 points two months later. Libertarian Mike Ross’s support has gone up slightly (3.7%), and Green Party candidate Wayne Turner remains below one percent. There are slightly more undecided voters in this race than there were in March. 

“The lead Mark Robinson enjoyed earlier this year is all but gone,” said Carolina Journal publisher and John Locke Foundation CEO Donald Bryson. “This has not translated in a significant bump in Stein’s numbers, but rather an increase in support for third party candidates and undecided voters. Both Stein and Robinson campaigns will have to put in overtime to pull out a win in this race.” 

Support for both former President Donald Trump and incumbent Joe Biden went down this month. Trump’s support came in at 42.6% (down from 45.2% in March), and Biden’s support was 38.1% (down from 39.8% in March). Independent presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr. has an increase in popularity. His support has increased 1.5 points from last month, bringing him to 8.8% support. The remaining 10.9% of the electorate is either unsure or is planning to vote for someone else. When asked how Trump’s current legal challenges affected North Carolinians’ likelihood of voting for him, 9.4% said they made them less likely to vote for Trump, 41.5% said they never intended to vote for Trump, and 36.8% said these legal challenges make them more likely to vote for Trump. Three-quarters of voters who cast their ballot for Donald Trump in 2020 said the legal challenges make them more likely to vote for Trump. 

President Biden’s approval rating remains inversed, with 56.9% of voters disapproving of the job he is doing as president, and 36.4% approving. Governor Roy Cooper fares much better with 44.3% approving of the job he is doing his governor, and 38.4% disapproving. This preference toward state governance can also be seen in voters’ perspectives for the future. Less than a quarter of voters believe that the United States is headed in the right direction, but 34.5% of voters say North Carolina is on the right track. Nearly two-thirds say the United States is on the wrong track, while half of voters believe North Carolina is headed in the wrong direction. 

Republican candidates continue to lead Democratic candidates in both the generic General Assembly ballot and the generic Congressional ballot. Approximately 47% of North Carolinians said they would vote for Republican candidate in the race for state legislature, while approximately 43% said they would vote for a Democrat. Similarly, 48.3% said they would vote for Republican candidate in the congressional race, while 42.6% said they would vote for a Democrat. Republican Jefferson Griffin has a half-point lead on Democrat Allison Riggs in the race for North Carolina Supreme Court (39.6% and 39.1%, respectively). More than 20% of voters in this race remain undecided. 

When asked about the recent pro-Palestine protests across American university campuses, only 13.4% of voters said they both support the cause and the actions of the protesters. Approximately a third said they support the cause but believe the protesters should be subject to criminal charges when they break the law, and 40.6% of voters said they neither support the cause, nor the actions of the protesters. Self-identified conservatives are the most likely to oppose the protesters’ actions and their cause (67%). Self-identified liberals are the most likely to support the protesters’ cause (96%), but only 41% say they support the protesters’ actions. Self-identified moderates are less likely to support the cause than liberals (52%), but only 10% of them support the protesters’ actions. Young voters (aged 18 to 34) are the most likely to say they support the cause and actions of the protesters, at 36%. Only 6% of voters 50 or older said they support the cause and the protesters’ actions. 

Voters over the age of 50, however, are most likely to support a state law that requires county sheriffs to cooperate with federal immigration and customs enforcement when detaining illegal immigrants who are charged with a crime. Nearly three-quarters of voters over 50 would support this law. While support has less strength among voters younger than 50, this proposition still enjoys majority support at 55%. Nearly two-thirds of all voters support ICE and Sheriff Cooperation. 

Support for video gambling, however, has less support. A plurality of voters (46.8%) say they would oppose the legalization of video lottery terminals (VLTs) in North Carolina. Only 21.4% of voters support VLTs, and 31.8% are either unsure or indifferent. Women over the age of 65 are the most likely to oppose VLTs (65%), and men aged 35 to 49 are the least likely to oppose them (30%).  

North Carolina anticipates a $1-billion tax surplus this fiscal year. When asked their reaction to that news, 50.5% of voters said they think the government is taxing too much, 36.6% of voters said the government should be spending more on high-priority items, and 12.9% were unsure. What’s more, nearly two-thirds of voters believe that lowering taxes and regulations will improve the economy; however, only 15.4% believe targeted tax cuts will. When asked what voters believe the government should do when it incurs a surplus, a plurality (40.7%) said it should be refunded to the taxpayers, 16.7% said it should be spent on current budget priorities, 16.3% said it should be allocated for future emergencies, 8.8% said it should be invested in new program, 6.4% said “something else,” and 11.2% were unsure. 

“While the government is happy to see a surplus over a deficit, taxpayers want their money back,” continued Bryson. “After consecutive years of surplus and a healthy rainy-day fund, now is the time to return taxpayers’ hard-earned money.” 

One budget item that does not receive strong support is NC Innovation. NC Innovation is a private group devoted to helping turn public university research into profit-making business ventures. Last session, the General Assembly allocated $500 million from the General Fund to this organization. A plurality of 45.7% of voters oppose this use of taxpayer dollars, with only 22.9% in support. A fiscal decision with greater support is childcare tax credits. When asked how the government should address the cost of childcare, a plurality (36.9%) said they would prefer tax credits, 21.1% said reducing regulations that increase the cost of providing childcare, 16.9% said a childcare subsidy, and 10.4% said the government should not act.