The View from North Carolina: Approval of Political Leaders

September 8, 2021
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Joe Biden | North Carolina | US Politics | US Public Figures

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Apart from 2008, when Barack Obama narrowly defeated John McCain, North Carolina has given its electoral college votes to the Republican nominee in every Presidential Election since 1980. Though Joe Biden lost the state to Donald Trump in 2020, the results were close, with 49.93% of votes going to Trump and 48.59% going to Biden, reflecting that the state’s population is not solidly in either party’s camp. The latest research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies reaffirms this lack of partisan consensus, finding that President Joe Biden receives a net approval rating of +1% from North Carolinians.

44% approve, 43% disapprove, and 10% neither approve nor disapprove of Joe Biden’s overall job performance since he became President of the United States. Approval of the President has a clear age dimension, as majorities of those aged 18 to 24 (51%) and 25 to 34 (54%) approve, while older respondents aged 45 to 54 (50%), 55 to 64 (48%), and 65 and above (54%) are more likely to disapprove. 35-to-44-year-olds are the most divided, with 42% approving and 39% disapproving of Biden’s performance thus far. 

Just 12% of 2020 Donald Trump voters indicate that they approve of President Biden, while an overwhelming 79% disapprove. A similar proportion (80%) of 2020 Joe Biden voters, however, approve of his performance, while those who did not vote in the 2020 Election are split between approval (37%) and disapproval (37%).

Looking at how North Carolinians assess the Joe Biden Administration’s performance in specific policy areas, our research finds that the only areas in which pluralities of respondents express approval are the coronavirus pandemic (45%) and the environment (38%). That being said, notable proportions of 39% and 35%, respectively, disapprove of the Administration’s record on the pandemic and the environment, demonstrating that there is no clear consensus in the state in these realms.

Respondents also give mixed reviews of the Administration’s performance on the economy (43% disapprove, 37% approve), addressing unemployment (41% disapprove, 37% approve), and housing (36% disapprove, 31% approve). More substantial pluralities of respondents disapprove of the Joe Biden Administration’s performance with regard to relations with Russia (38%), relations with China (41%), defence (41%), crime/policing (42%), and immigration (48%); these results suggest that North Carolinians are most dissatisfied with the Administration’s actions on foreign relations and security. This finding is particularly true for 2020 Donald Trump voters, 81% and 74% of whom, respectively, disapprove of the Administration’s performance on immigration and defence.

Compared to the just barely positive net approval rating that North Carolinians give President Joe Biden, the state’s Republican Senators evoke more negative evaluations: 36% disapprove and 24% approve of Senator Richard Burr, and 38% disapprove and 31% approve of Senator Thom Tillis, resulting in respective net approval ratings of -12% and -7%. 

Notably, a considerable fifth (19%) of Joe Biden voters approve and a third (33%) of Donald Trump voters disapprove of Senator Burr’s performance. The substantial disapproval expressed by Donald Trump voters may be in part because Richard Burr was one of seven Republican Senators to convict Trump of incitement of insurrection in his second impeachment trial. Burr will not seek re-election in the 2022 Senate Elections, leaving his seat up for grabs in what is set to be a closely contested race.

By contrast, the Governor of North Carolina draws out a decidedly positive net approval rating of +16%: 45% of North Carolinians approve of Governor Roy Cooper’s overall job performance since becoming Governor, while 29% disapprove and 20% neither approve nor disapprove. Cooper, a Democrat who was re-elected in 2020, enjoys the approval of 72% of 2020 Joe Biden voters, as well as 23% of 2020 Donald Trump voters, indicating that there is a degree of bipartisan support for the Governor.

Among President Joe Biden, Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, and Governor Roy Cooper, it seems that North Carolinians are most satisfied with Cooper and least satisfied with Burr. When it comes to President Biden, opinions are much more divided, with similar proportions both approving and disapproving of his performance so far, though appraisals of his Administration’s record in specific policy areas tend to be more negative.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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