North Carolinians downbeat on economy

Half of all North Carolinians disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling the economy, and less than a third of the state believes his policies have made economic conditions better, according to the latest Elon University Poll.

The poll, conducted Sept. 20-23, 2010, surveyed 584 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones. The Elon University Poll does not restrict respondents by voter eligibility or likelihood of voting.

Forty-four percent of respondents approved of Obama’s handling of the economy. Twenty-seven percent of North Carolinians said his policies have made economic conditions better. However, 37 percent said they believe his policies have made things worse, and 34 percent believe the policies haven’t had an effect.

When respondents were asked about their perspectives of recent administrative initiatives to stimulate the economy:

  • Oppose additional stimulus funds: 49 percent
  • Support additional stimulus funds: 38 percent

Perspectives on the state economy proved more positive relative to those on the national economy. Forty-nine percent of North Carolinians believe the economy has leveled off but has not started to improve; 21 percent of respondents think the economy has started to improve, and 27 percent think the worst is yet to come for the economy.

About seven out of 10 North Carolinians acknowledge that the downturn in the economy has affected their own financial situation. Respondents were asked what they believe will happen with their personal situations by the end of the year:

  • Stay the same: 48 percent
  • Worsen: 23 percent
  • Get better: 27 percent

“The sustained public exasperation about the economy will pose consequences for both political parties in the upcoming election,” observed Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll, “Though Democrats will, as the party in power, probably incur more of this blame, I imagine the public is going to be democratic and hold everyone involved accountable at some level.”

Offshore Oil Drilling

Nearly half of all respondents note that the Gulf oil spill affected their opinion about drilling off of North Carolina’s coast.

The poll found that 51 percent of North Carolinians support drilling for gas and oil off the coast of North Carolina, a marked drop from April, when 63 percent of respondents favored such drilling.

In the most recent poll, 40 percent of respondents opposed drilling, which was up from April, when only 30 percent of respondents disapproved of the idea.

Tea Party

Familiarity with the Tea Party increased slightly among North Carolinians. Today, more than half of North Carolinians indicate they are at least somewhat familiar with the Tea Party

Those that are familiar with the Tea Party are divided in their support (35 percent) and opposition (31 percent) to the Tea Party’s political message. When asked about their view of the Tea Party movement, almost 46 percent of those familiar with it view the movement favorably, while 40 percent view it unfavorably.

The division in opinion closes when respondents familiar with the Tea Party are asked whether they agree or disagree with its political message; 35 percent agree with the Tea Party message, while 33 percent disagree with it.