By Donna King
In a new poll out Thursday, Oct. 21, there are rumblings that North Carolina voters are growing frustrated with President Joe Biden’s overall performance and his handling of jobs and the economy. With North Carolina a key state in the 2022 midterm elections, this statewide survey of 600 likely voters found 38% of respondents approve of Biden overall, but 56% do not. The margin of error in the survey is plus or minus 4%.
In Gov. Roy Cooper’s overall job performance, 46% of voters approve, while 46% disapprove.
Generally, Cooper has enjoyed positive polling numbers, and the now even numbers could be tied to President Biden’s increasingly dismal approval rating on the economy. In this poll, 55%, disapprove of Biden’s handling of the pandemic and economy, and two-thirds (63%) of respondents said the economy is getting worse.
“There is a correlation between Biden and Cooper’s approval ratings, but the governor is faring better than the president,” said Donald Bryson, president of the John Locke Foundation, which sponsored the poll. “However, the cracks in Cooper’s armor are issue-specific, and he is five points underwater on his handling of the economy. That has to be top of mind for many people who go to the grocery store and see empty shelves and face vaccine mandates at work.”
This survey comes as North Carolina closes in on 600 days under Cooper’s executive emergency orders related to the COVID pandemic, and the state legislature votes to rein in his authority to keep the state under those orders. Also a Democrat, many of Cooper’s policies on vaccine mandates, business capacity, and masking have reflected the Biden White House priorities.
“I think Governor Cooper has generally paved his own path on COVID,” said Bryson. “Still, Biden and Cooper are driven by a similar ideology where government power should be used to control the populous for the safety of the populous. Individual choice and agency have no bearing in that mindset.”
The poll shows Cooper and Biden still have strong support from self-identified liberals, with an 80% approval from that group, but overall numbers are not trending in Democrats’ favor. Poll numbers on a generic ballot found that 43% percent of respondents say they would vote for a Democrat for the legislature if the 2022 general election were held today, and 50% said they’d vote for Republicans.
So far, 13 Democrats in the U.S. House, including North Carolina’s Congressman David Price, D- 14th District, have announced they will not run for re-election in 2022.
“I don’t recall seeing Republicans with this type of generic lead, and Republicans having a generic ballot lead is rare anyway due to the voter registration advantage that Democrats have held historically,” said Bryson.
There are 2,493,661 registered Democrat voters in North Carolina and 2,176,244 registered Republicans. The fastest-growing group is unaffiliated voters, with 2,442,213 registered. With a seven-point swing toward Republicans in the poll, those kinds of numbers could shift the weight at the negotiating table as legislative Republicans and Cooper work to hammer out a budget deal, now four months overdue.
The run-up to the 2022 elections has pollsters working double-time as they try to gauge the impact of COVID policies, the economy, and voter fatigue over mixed messaging on gathering restrictions and masking. In Cygnal’s 2017 poll of Donald Trump, the former president polled with a total approval at 47% and total disapproval at 50%.
“President Trump spent most of his tenure within the margin of error of 50/50 on his job approval,” said Bryson. “At this point in his presidency, Trump was three points underwater with a 47% disapproval and a 50% approval rating. The lowest approval rating we saw for President Trump was 45% in September 2018, and eight points underwater. We never found anything approaching this 17-point deficit for President Biden.”
The survey was conducted Oct. 15-17, 2021, by Harper Polling, a Cygnal company. It surveyed 600 likely general election voters and has a margin of error of +/-4.0%. Known registered voters were interviewed via live phones, SMS, and email invitation. This survey was weighted to likely general election voter universe.