State residents divided on OWS movement

North Carolinians are evenly divided on their views of the Occupy Wall Street movement, according to the latest Elon University Poll, as protesters around the country continue making news with demonstrations against large banks and a political system that many of the activists say is broken.

Of those familiar with Occupy Wall Street, 45 percent hold an unfavorable opinion of the movement, and the same number reported a favorable opinion.  Thirty-two percent of respondents consider themselves supporters of the movement and 26 percent consider themselves opponents.

The poll, conducted Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2011, surveyed 529 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.26 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.

When asked whether the movement is aligned with a political party:

  • 53 percent believe that Occupy Wall Street is aligned more with the Democratic Party
  • 5 percent believe it is aligned with the Republican Party
  • 34 percent said the movement is not aligned with a party

Meanwhile, four out of five North Carolinians are familiar with the Tea Party movement, and of those who are familiar, 42 percent say that they have a favorable opinion of the movement with 46 percent expressing an unfavorable opinion.

Three out of 10 respondents identified themselves as opponents of the Tea Party, but nearly as many considered themselves supporters.

“While the Tea Party has certainly emerged as a political player on the national scene, at this point it remains uncertain whether it will have a significant impact here in North Carolina this coming election year,” said Betty Morgan, director of the university’s Center of Public Affairs.

North Carolinians were also asked to identify who they thought was the “head of the Tea Party.”  Almost half indicated that they “don’t know” who is the head of the Tea Party.

Other responses included:

  • Sarah Palin: 14 percent
  • Michele Bachmann: 5 percent
  • Republicans in Congress: 3 percent
  • Other Person: 11 percent
  • There is no Tea Party head: 18 percent

Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage

Opposition to the amendment, which North Carolina voters will have the opportunity to vote on in the May primary, rose 1 percentage point since an Elon University Poll taken in September. The 37 percent of respondents who said they support the amendment is a decrease of two percentage points from the last poll, and both numbers remain within the margin of error.

Data from the three most recent polls asking on the topic include:

N.C. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage:

  • November 2011: 57 percent oppose / 37 percent support
  • September 2011: 56 percent oppose / 39 percent support
  • February 2011: 56 percent oppose / 38 percent support

Oppose any legal recognition for same-sex couples:

  • November 2011: 35 percent
  • September 2011: 34 percent
  • February 2011: 35 percent

Support civil unions or partnerships, but not full marriage rights:

  • November 2011: 26 percent
  • September 2011: 29 percent
  • February 2011: 29 percent

Support full marriage rights:

  • November 2011: 33 percent
  • September 2011: 33 percent
  • February 2011: 28 percent


North Carolinians are not paying much attention to news surrounding “fracking” as a means of extracting natural gas in the state. Twenty percent of respondents said they paid “a great deal” or “some” attention to news on the issue. At the same time, 53 percent indicated they have paid “not very much” attention or “none at all” to the news.

“Despite recent media coverage, few people are following this topic,” Morgan said. “While the issue may be drawing increased attention from policy makers, it has not yet filtered down into citizen level discussion.”

UNC-TV Public Television

Seventy-eight percent of North Carolinians viewed having a public television service in North Carolina as important.

Respondents were also asked how often they watched UNC-TV in a typical week:

  • 14 percent said “never”
  • 26 percent said “rarely”
  • 39 percent said “sometimes”
  • 21 percent said “often”

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they believe news and public affairs programs broadcast on UNC-TV were trustworthy. Respondents were also asked whether they supported the use of state funding for UNC-TV:

  • 49 percent support state funding
  • 13 percent oppose state funding
  • 37 percent said they don’t know