State residents support drilling off N.C. coast

Nearly two out of three state residents support drilling for oil and gas off the North Carolina coast, according to the latest Elon University Poll, and three quarters of citizens would support the increase of federal funds for research on wind, solar and hydrogen technology.

The poll, conducted April 19-22, 2010, surveyed 607 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Respondents were not limited by voter registration or likelihood of voting. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones.

Sixty-three percent of respondents supported drilling for oil and gas off the coast. Thirty percent opposed it. Seventy-five percent of respondents indicated their approval for more funding into the wind, solar and hydrogen energy technology research.

Energy supply and conservation measures were one of four public policy topics examined in the latest poll. Citizens were also questioned about their attitudes on Gov. Beverly Perdue’s ethics proposals for state government, video poker, and gun use and ownership.

Ethics Proposals for State Government

In the wake of investigations into the previous administration, Gov. Beverly Perdue has introduced a series of ethics rules proposals for state government officials and employees. Respondents were asked to rate their degree of appropriateness.

Citizens generally found there to be a good balance for some rules. They include:

  • Requiring a person to resign from their appointment if they miss more than a quarter of their board or commission meetings.
  • Requiring a person to sign a pledge that identifies any conflicts of interest they have.
  • Requiring a person to refuse gifts from a company or organization that they do business with.

However, a larger percentage of respondents expressed reservations about two proposals being too strict. Those included:

  • Nearly 22 percent of respondents believe it is too strict to have a rule that requires a person to wait at least a year before they can work for a company with which they do business as a state employee.
  • Nearly one-fifth of respondents (19.3%) thought it too strict to require a person to forfeit his retirement pension if convicted of a felony related to his appointment.

A sizable percentage of respondents said they believed one rule doesn’t go far enough.

  • Twenty percent of respondents found a proposal not strict enough in requiring a person to resign his appointment if accused of a felony or refusing to cooperate with an investigation related to their appointment.

“Given the on-going investigations involving members of the former administration and other issues involving activities of some political contributors, citizens appear willing to support the governor’s proposals to improve ethics in government,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.

Video Poker

Respondents were divided in their support of video poker in North Carolina. Forty-six percent of citizens believe video poker should be legal and 45 percent think it should be illegal. These results show a small increase since last year among those North Carolinians that believe video poker should be legal in the state.

Gun Use & Ownership

Gun ownership in North Carolina is supported unequivocally, though there are some reservations about the types of guns people should be able to own as well as who should be able to own guns in the state.

Four out of five people disagree with banning the sale of handguns, the poll found. Seventy percent of respondents, however, do not agree with the sale of assault rifles. North Carolinians also support or agree with certain stipulations – a waiting period, a registration requirement, & restrictions for certain people – for owning handguns.

Requiring a ‘waiting period’ before citizens can purchase a handgun:

  • Support: 84.2%
  • Oppose: 14.2%

Requiring gun owners to register their handguns with the local government:

  • Support: 76.4%
  • Oppose: 21.0%

Citizens are more divided when asked about carrying concealed handguns and the sale of semi-automatic handguns.

Letting people carry a concealed handgun:

  • Agree: 56.5%
  • Disagree: 41.2%

Permitting people to own semi-automatic handguns:

  • Agree: 48.8%
  • Disagree: 47.7%