North Carolinians support alternative energy measures … except for nuclear

Four out of five North Carolina residents support the construction of wind energy facilities in both the mountains and along the coast of the Tar Heel State, according to the latest Elon University Poll, though half the state opposes the government promoting the increased use of nuclear power to address America’s energy supply.

The poll, conducted April 11-14, 2011, surveyed 630 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.98 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.

Citizens generally agree with efforts to promote energy conservation, the poll found. Only in one area – the increased use of nuclear energy – is there a division of opinion.  Fifty percent of North Carolinians disagree with increasing the use of nuclear power as an energy supply measure.

There is agreement for other energy conservation measures:

  • 67 percent agree with spending more on urban rail and bus systems
  • 70 percent agree with increasing federal funding for research on wind, solar and hydrogen technology
  • 59 percent of North Carolinians agree with expanding offshore oil and gas drilling

Nuclear Energy

In the wake of the Japanese experience with their nuclear power stations after the tsunami, pollsters inquired of the perspectives and knowledge of North Carolinians about nuclear energy and nuclear power stations.

Fifty percent of North Carolinians oppose the government promoting the increased use of nuclear power, while 43 percent support it. Citizens also were asked whether they knew how many nuclear power stations were in the state; 63 percent knew that nuclear power stations were in the state, but, of those with this knowledge, only 10 percent could correctly identify the correct number (3) of these facilities.

North Carolinians are confident about the design of nuclear power plants in the state, as 35 percent of citizens believe these power stations are designed to be ‘more safe’ than those in Japan and only 10 percent believe these are designed to be ‘less safe.’

Budget and Taxes

Respondents were asked their views on the state sales tax, state government employees, and state program funding as options to address the state’s budget situation.

Citizens continue to oppose the creation of new taxes to address the budget shortfall, yet when asked to consider an extension of the temporary one cent sales tax for another year, as well as simply increasing the state sales tax by one cent, citizens are supportive of both options – 54 percent support increasing the state sales tax and 73 percent support extending the temporary increase for another year.

Similar support for an increase in the state sales tax emerges if the revenue is dedicated to public education (public schools, community colleges, and universities) – 71 percent of citizens support a one cent increase in the sales tax. Sixty percent of respondents oppose eliminating the jobs of current employees to take care of the budget shortfall.

Voter Identification

Similar to results from previous Elon University polls, North Carolinians remain overwhelmingly supportive (75 percent) of the voter identification provisions being considered by the North Carolina General Assembly; 80 percent of those surveyed believe that requiring photo identification to vote is fair.

Handguns and Gun Ownership

With the introduction of legislation to change gun laws in North Carolina, pollsters asked respondents about some of these proposals under consideration. Forty-two percent of North Carolinians said they own a gun.

Other findings on gun laws:

  • 81 percent oppose banning the sale of handguns
  • 56 percent support the carrying of concealed handguns
  • 73 percent are opposed to permitting handguns in restaurants and bars
  • 65 percent are opposed to permitting handguns in public parks