Economy taking its toll on Carolinians

North and South Carolinians are feeling the pinch of a rocky economy, with nearly half of respondents in the latest Elon University Poll witnessing their retirement plans lose at least a quarter of their values alongside a drop in the values of their homes.

And the federal stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama remains unpopular among residents of both states, with South Carolinians expressing even more disapproval than their neighbors to the north.

The poll, conducted April 19-23, surveyed 662 North and South Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Personal Effects of the Economy

Nearly three quarters of respondents say that the economy has touched them personally. Among the ways residents have been affected:

  • Lost money in the Stock Market – 60%
  • Home Value Decline – 45%
  • Retirement Plan Lost 25% or More – 45%
  • Reduction in Hours at Work – 25%
  • Lost Medical Coverage/Insurance – 16%
  • Trouble Paying Mortgage – 15%
  • Lost a Job – 13%

Views on the Overall Federal Stimulus Package

Support for the federal stimulus is split among respondents but is particularly unpopular with South Carolinians. Respondents split evenly on their support (46%) and opposition (46%) to the federal stimulus package, yet 48 percent believe the stimulus package will help the U.S. economy.

However, a majority of residents (52%) oppose another stimulus effort by the federal government, while only 35 percent would support such an effort.  In gauging the various aspects of the spending from the stimulus package, residents believe the government has spent too much on:

  • ‘Large banks’ – 75%
  • ‘Financial institutions’ – 68%
  • ‘Auto companies’ – 65%

In contrast, Carolinians believe that too little has been spent helping:

  • ‘Homeowners facing foreclosure’ – 48%
  • ‘Small business owners’ – 68%

Views on the Federal Stimulus for Banks and Financial Institutions

Residents of both states are divided on the federal government providing money to banks and financial institutions in an effort to address the country’s economic woes. Fifty-one percent disapprove of the federal government providing money to banks and financial institutions, while 43 percent support this effort to fix the country’s economic situation.

Eighty percent of respondents believe the problems facing banks and financial institutions is the banks’ responsibility; 12 percent felt the problems were the result of economic conditions beyond the banks’ control.

Nearly 60 percent of North and South Carolinians support the federal government providing assistance to homeowners that cannot afford to pay their mortgages.

“There is definitely a sense of skepticism about the economy among North and South Carolinians,” observed Hunter Bacot, Director of the Elon University Poll.  “There appears to be a pervasive sentiment that citizens’ personal plights are being neglected and, as a result, they are growing more disgruntled with measures taken to address the ailing economy.”

North and South Carolina citizens are also averse to labor unions.  Fifty-four percent of residents have an unfavorable opinion of labor unions, while only 28 percent have a favorable opinion of unions. Asked about what side they would take when labor unions and businesses enter into talks or negotiations, 50 percent of residents said they would side with business and 23 percent said they would side with unions.

Asked of South Carolina Residents

Gov. Mark Sanford and Federal Stimulus Funds
305 South Carolinian respondents with a margin of error of +/- 5.7%

South Carolinians are at odds with their governor with respect to his decision about the federal stimulus funds being provided to the state.  Asked if they would advise Gov. Mark Sanford to accept or reject the stimulus money designated for the state, 63 percent of South Carolinians would advise him to accept the money, while only 30 percent would tell him to reject the money.

A majority of South Carolinians – 53 percent – oppose Sanford’s initial decision to not take the federal stimulus money, while 40 support him on it.