Support cools for N.C. sales tax extension

A majority of North Carolinians opposes making permanent a one percentage point increase in the state sales tax that was implemented two years ago, even as the state faces a $3 billion budget shortfall, according to the latest Elon University Poll.

More than half of respondents – 53 percent – said they oppose the sales tax hike being made permanent. That figure represents an increase of 12 percentage points since November when 41 percent of North Carolinians opposed the idea.

However, 57 percent of respondents in the most recent poll said they oppose the elimination of state jobs to address the gap, and a similar percent – 58 percent – are opposed to equal, across-the-board reduction of funding for all state programs.

The poll, conducted Feb. 20-24, 2011, surveyed 467 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 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.

Gov. Bev Perdue

North Carolinians are divided on their support of Perdue, with 41 percent disapproving and 40 percent approving of the way she is handing her job as governor. Perdue’s favorability rating has increased slightly since the fall, with 41 percent of respondents viewing her favorability and 38 percent viewing her unfavorably.

Right Track / Wrong Track

The economy continues to be the most important issue for North Carolina residents. Although respondents have a more positive view on the direction the state is going than they did five months ago, more than half still believe the state has gotten off on the wrong track.

February 2011 

  • Right direction: 38 percent
  • Wrong track: 56 percent

September 2010 

  • Right Direction: 33 percent
  • Wrong Track: 63 percent

Economy & Personal Financial Situations

Nearly 35 percent of respondents expect the state economy to “get better,” an increase of almost ten percentage points from last fall.

February 2011 

  • Get Better: 35 percent
  • Stay the Same: 30 percent
  • Get Worse: 33 percent

September 2010 

  • Get Better: 25 percent
  • Stay the Same: 43 percent
  • Get Worse: 30 percent

One third of respondents – 33 percent – expect their personal financial situation to get better.

February 2011 

  • Get Better: 34 percent
  • Stay the Same: 46 percent
  • Get Worse: 20 percent

September 2010

  • Get Better: 27 percent
  • Stay the Same: 48 percent
  • Get Worse: 23 percent

“Though the state is mired in a budget quandary and the economy remains the most important issue on the minds of North Carolinians, citizens are more optimistic about the direction of the state’s economy, as well as their personal financial situations than they have been in some time,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.