How has COVID-19 impacted North Carolinians’ policy views and what do they think of elected officials’ response to Coronavirus?

May 28, 2020

Today we wrap up the review of our recent statewide poll on the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on public policy in North Carolina, with an examination of North Carolinians’ thoughts on the response from their elected officials to the crisis.

North Carolinians view the coronavirus outbreak as more of an economic crisis than a health crisis.

And coronavirus has focused North Carolinians on economic issues as they think about the issues that will drive their decisions at the polls this November. Notably, education funding and teacher pay, the top priority of voters over the past few election cycles as our economy roared, was mentioned by fewer than 1 of 7 voters as the most important issue to them.

While legislators often think they’re at the center of the political universe and every move they make in Raleigh is known at home and shapes the public’s opinion of them, North Carolinians threw cold water on that notion.  Most North Carolina politicians, pundits and media view passing the state’s annual budget as the SINGLE MOST CONSEQUENTIAL ACTION the governor and legislature take each year. But almost 80% of voters admitted either to not knowing or noticing the state had failed to adopt a new budget over the past 18 months.

Recent news reports show North Carolina is facing a multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall but voters aren’t keen on any of the options the state might use to close that deficit.

In light of State Auditor Beth Wood’s audit excoriating Governor Cooper’s management of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, it probably shouldn’t surprise us that voters are not supportive of any of the revenue generating options being floated to bail DOT out of the billion-dollar budget hole Governor Cooper’s overspending and mismanagement created.  As State House leaders consider an enormous, multi-billion-dollar borrowing plan, the fact that an overwhelming 82% of voters oppose a transportation bond proposal should cause them concern.

Voters are closely divided on whether state officials should spend the federal coronavirus aid now or save it to avoid budget cuts later.

North Carolinians trust Republicans more then Democrats to get the state’s economy going again.

Finally, North Carolinians believe China deserves most of the blame for the coronavirus outbreak.

In early May, legislators and Governor Cooper agreed on a series of bills to help North Carolina respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The actions they agreed to take have broad public support. There are several additional highlighted actions legislators could take to help address the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The public strongly supports elected officials creating a special energy rate for manufacturers who move back to North Carolina from China, providing small businesses with protections from lawsuits over coronavirus, and increasing unemployment benefit payments for people who have lost their job because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

North Carolinians are ambivalent about allowing restaurants to sell mixed drinks with to-go and takeout orders.

North Carolinians also continue to support Medicaid Expansion by a large margin. 

It is clear that North Carolinians are looking to their political leaders to guide the state through the coronavirus outbreak and back to the path of economic growth and prosperity. 

See the complete topline here and crosstabs here.