JLF chairman John Hood analyzes the ‘mixed signals’ Gov. Roy Cooper is getting on his job performance via polls conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling and the conservative Civitas Institute.

In the final third of the article, Hood get down to brass tacks:

When Democrats broke the Republicans’ veto-proof majorities in the North Carolina General Assembly last November, that empowered Cooper. It also subjected him to greater risk. His proposals were no longer disposable. His vetoes were no longer symbolic.

At the moment, the governor and GOP lawmakers are facing off over the state budget. Cooper is telegraphing that he’ll veto it if it doesn’t include Medicaid expansion, a core issue for the Democratic base. Republican leaders are telegraphing that they and their own political base won’t accept such a vast expansion of the welfare state.

The governor seems to think that centering his budget message on Medicaid expansion is a winning strategy. I don’t see any evidence of that yet. Poll questions on the subject are problematic because respondents are rarely presented with the cost (in federal and state taxes) and frequently mistake Medicaid for Medicare.

I’m not certain why Cooper fared so differently in the two polls. I am fairly certain that his Medicaid gambit won’t boost him in either one.

For his part, Senate leader Phil Berger said following Cooper’s veto of the proposed state budget ‘this is and has always been about Medicaid expansion.’ And it will continue to be.