by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Majority give school boards “D” or “F” grades for addressing parental
concerns about politicization in the classroom
RALEIGH — Battleground North Carolina is unfriendly political territory for President Joe Biden, and it’s getting worse. The October Civitas Poll shows the president’s job approval among likely general election voters has cratered to 39%. That’s a new low and a drop of nine percentage points since the poll’s first assessment in March. Conversely, disapproval with Mr. Biden’s performance has soared to a record high – 56% – up seven percentage points since March.
Analysis of the new data shows the president with glaring problems among men (59% disapproval), those between the ages of 50 and 64 (59% disapproval), and unaffiliated voters (58% disapproval). Bright spots for Mr. Biden include rock-solid 80% support among liberals and 58% support among urban voters. Forty-four percent of moderates give him a thumbs up.
North Carolinians are concerned about the economy, and they tie the issue to the president. Nearly two out of three (63%) say the economy is getting worse, and 55% say President Biden is responsible. Just 29% assign their view of the economy to former President Donald Trump.
“President Biden owns the ups and downs of the economy now, and a majority of voters are clearly unhappy with that,” said John Locke Foundation President Donald Bryson. “A near-majority of voters think it will take more than two years to get out of the COVID-19 economy, most think Biden is responsible for it, and most of them don’t like how he’s handling it.”
Gov. Roy Cooper fares better than President Biden in the October Civitas Poll but shows no growth in his support. Voters remain split on the governor’s performance, with 46% approving and 46% disapproving. That is a near repeat of the 45% approval/disapproval divide in the August poll. Cooper began the year with 49% approval in March.
Just 40% are happy with the governor’s handling of jobs and the economy, while 45% are unhappy. The governor’s Democrat partners in the General Assembly are given similar marks. Forty-three percent say they would vote for a Democrat for the legislature if the 2022 general election were held today. Legislative Republicans earn 50% support for 2022, up four percentage points since March.
Bryson continued, “President Biden and Gov. Cooper have long coattails, and they’re dragging down Democrats who have hopes in the 2022 midterms. It’s hard to see how these generic numbers get better for Democrats because they are this low before Republicans have even started campaigning.”
The October poll adds data to the debate over what is taught in public schools and the role of parents in the education of their children. Three out of four likely voters (75%) believe classroom instruction in their local K-12 public school has become more political in the last five years. Nearly six of 10 voters (57%) say it is much more political.
When asked to grade how school boards have addressed parental concerns about politicization in the classroom, a majority – 52% – responded with a “D” or “F” grade. Just 11% handed out an “A” or “B.” Similarly, nearly half (47%) gave the boards a “D” or “F” for addressing parental concerns about masks and COVID-19 vaccinations.
In the August Civitas Poll, North Carolinians made clear who they believe should make the decision about face masks. A full 45% said the responsibility rests with parents. Just 11% said local school districts are in the best position to decide, while 8% chose school administrators. Only one in five said Gov. Cooper should make the call on masks for students.
“The pandemic laid bare long-standing deficiencies in our public schools, particularly unresponsive and unaccountable governance and politicized academic content,” said Dr. Terry Stoops, director of Locke’s Center for Effective Education, who analyzed the polling data.
Methodology: The survey was conducted Oct. 15-17, 2021, by Harper Polling, a Cygnal company. It surveyed 600 likely general election voters and has a margin of error of +/-4.0%. Known registered voters were interviewed via live phones, SMS, and email invitation. This survey was weighted to likely general election voter universe.