Elon Poll: Obama, McCrory approval numbers drop in N.C.

The first Elon University Poll of the fall semester found a majority of registered voters in North Carolina believe the nation and the state are both on the wrong track.

More than half of registered voters in North Carolina disapprove of President Barack Obama’s job performance and nearly as many are unhappy with the way their own governor has handled his role leading the state, according to the latest Elon University Poll.

The dissatisfaction reflects the way North Carolinians view the direction of the country and the state. Seventy percent believe the United States is on the “wrong track” and 59 percent say the same for North Carolina itself.

The live-caller, dual frame (landline and cell phone) survey of 701 registered voters was conducted Sept. 13-16, 2013, and has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

“The president, governor and the General Assembly have all seen a substantial decline in their job approval since the last Elon University Poll in April of this year,” said Assistant Professor Kenneth Fernandez, director of the Elon University Poll. 

Fifty-one percent of poll respondents said they disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job as president, and the numbers break along party lines as 79 percent of Democrats approve of the president compared to just 6 percent of Republicans.

Race also factored into support. Eighty-three percent of African-American respondents approve of Obama’s performance compared to 26 percent of whites do. A much higher number of whites (63 percent) said they disapprove of Obama, whereas just 8 percent of blacks disapprove.

Forty-six percent expressed disapproval of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s performance, and as with the president, the governor’s numbers also hinge on party affiliation. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans approve of McCrory’s job performance compared to 18 percent of Democrats.

Nearly twice as many whites (42 percent) approve of McCrory as do African-Americans (22 percent). More men (41 percent) indicate support for the governor than do women (32 percent).

And just over a quarter of respondents (26 percent) expect the economy to get better over the next year. Twenty-nine percent believe it will get worse and 42 percent say they expect it to remain about the same.


Respondents were asked how they viewed the job performances of Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who is up for re-election in 2014, and her colleague from North Carolina, Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr.

Kay Hagan:

Approve: 38 percent
Disapprove: 35 percent
Don’t Know: 26 percent

Richard Burr

Approve: 37 percent
Disapprove: 28 percent
Don’t Know: 35 percent

Approval marks for both senators broke largely along party lines. More than half of Democrats – 56 percent – approved of Hagan compared to 23 percent of Republicans. Forty-seven percent of Republicans approved of Burr’s job performance, though just 29 percent of Democrats felt the same.

Hagan found more support among African-American respondents, of whom 50 percent expressed approval. Burr’s approval numbers were nearly equal among whites (38 percent) and blacks (36 percent).

And in the Republican bid to unseat Hagan next year, the two state lawmakers currently viewed as frontrunners to win their party’s nomination carry relatively little name recognition.

Thirty-one percent of respondents said they recognize the name Thom Tillis, the Speaker of the House of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Sixty-seven percent of respondents did not. And of those who do recognize his name, 22 percent hold a favorable opinion of him, while 35 percent said they view him unfavorably. Forty-three percent said they didn’t know how they felt.

Republican Phil Berger, the president pro tem of the State Senate, carries slightly more name recognition with 33 percent of respondents saying they recognize Berger’s name. Of those who do, 21 percent view him favorably; approximately 30 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Berger, and nearly half of respondents who recognize his name don’t know how they feel about Berger.

“It is not surprising to see low name recognition of potential candidates this far from the Republican primary,” Fernandez said. “Even as the primary inches closer, these candidates will remain relatively unknown quantities to many Democrats and Independents.”


Poll respondents were generally pessimistic about the direction of both their nation and the state, and when it comes to North Carolina, those who believe the state is on the wrong track lay the blame on Republicans.

Q: Do you think things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction or do you think things are off on the wrong track?

Right direction: 23 percent
Wrong track: 70 percent
Don’t know: 6 percent

Q: Now, thinking about things in this state, do you think things in North Carolina are going in the right direction, or do you think things are off on the wrong track?

Right direction: 32 percent
Wrong track: 59 percent
Don’t know: 9 percent

Q: Which political party deserves more blame for North Carolina being on the wrong track? The Democratic Party or the Republican Party? (Asked of those who said the state was on the wrong track)

Democrats: 19 percent
Republicans: 49 percent
Neither/Other: 27 percent

Party affiliation appeared to influence views on the direction of both the nation and state. Eighty-nine percent of Republicans said they believe the country was on the wrong track, compared to 46 percent of Democrats.

Those numbers differed at the state level. More than half of Republicans – 51 percent – believe the state is headed in the right direction.  Seventy-eight percent of Democrats said the state is on the wrong track.


In the latest survey, 14 percent of respondents approved of the way Congress was performing in Washington, D.C, while 75 percent disapprove of the way the legislative body is doing its job.

Approval for the North Carolina General Assembly is markedly higher, but declined since an earlier poll in April of this year. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they approve of the way the lawmaking body in Raleigh is doing its job, though 48 percent disapprove. Nineteen percent of respondents didn’t know how they felt.


Sixty percent of registered voters had heard of the Moral Monday protests that have garnered North Carolina national attention in recent months, and nearly half (48 percent) of respondents familiar with the protests expressed a favorable opinion of them. Thirty-two percent said they have an unfavorable view of the Moral Monday protests. Nineteen percent said they didn’t know how they felt.

Democrats (75 percent) and independents (45 percent) showed the largest levels of support for Moral Monday protests. Only one in four Republicans had a favorable view.

Women (52 percent) also supported the protests more than men (44 percent). By race, African-Americans (69 percent) had a favorable view of Moral Mondays compared to their white counterparts (43 percent).

“Given the amount of media attention and controversy surrounding the activities of the General Assembly this summer, it may not come as a surprise that almost 60 percent of registered voters believe the state is on the wrong track,” Fernandez said. “Perhaps even more telling is the noticeable decline in job approval for the governor and General Assembly in North Carolina.”


Using a computer-assisted telephone interviewing lab on campus, Elon University conducts frequent regional and statewide surveys on issues of importance to North Carolinians as well as other Southern states. Information from these polls is shared with media, citizens and public officials to facilitate informed public policymaking through the better understanding of citizens’ opinions and attitudes.