February 27, 2009

Elon Poll: Majority of N.C. residents support Obama’s handling of economy, federal stimulus package

North Carolinians are feeling the effects of the recession and 42 percent of respondents in the latest Elon University Poll identified the economy as the most important issue facing the state today.

While a majority of respondents are united in their views on the federal stimulus package, as well as the steps needed to address state finances, they oppose cuts in sectors like education and public safety, and they support efforts to raise revenue through “sin taxes.”

The poll, conducted Feb. 22-26, surveyed 758 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

Given the current realities of the U.S. markets, 54 percent of residents approve or strongly approve of Obama’s handling of the economy thus far. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they approve or strongly approve of President Obama’s handling of the presidency overall. And 46 percent of North Carolinians say they trust President Obama more than Congress to tackle the main issues facing the nation.

While respondents report Democratic President Obama as most trustworthy, Congressional Republicans were trusted more than their Democratic counterparts at a rate of 21 to 10 percent, respectively.

“While North Carolinians are pessimistic about the economy, they are pinning their hopes on President Obama to lead them through this crisis,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.

With many residents fearing a continued economic downturn, opinions were distinct in regards to the federal government stimulus:

52 percent supported the federal government stimulus
39 percent disapproved of the stimulus
54 percent said they believe the stimulus will positively affect the economy

As North Carolina faces a financial shortfall this year, respondents were asked what areas of the state budget should or should not be cut. Results indicated that respondents were averse to cuts in the areas of education and public safety:

Crime & Public Safety:
77 percent oppose budget cuts
20 percent support budget cuts

Elementary & Secondary Education:
76 percent oppose budget cuts
20 percent support budget cuts

The Community College System:
70 percent oppose budget cuts
26 percent support budget cuts

Respondents designated areas where they support budget cuts:

Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services:
63 percent support budget cuts
31 percent oppose budget cuts

State General Fund:
54 percent support budget cuts
20 percent oppose budget cuts
26 percent don’t know

North Carolinians were asked if they would support a tax increase across various sources of revenue. Respondents supported increases in “sin taxes,” which include alcohol, tobacco and wine. The results are indicated below:

Liquor Tax: Support increases (78 percent), Oppose increases (18 percent)
Wine Tax: Support increases (76 percent), Oppose increases (20 percent)
Cigarette Tax: Support increases (73 percent), Oppose increases (23 percent)
Beer Tax: Support increases (72 percent), Oppose increases (23 percent)