August 18, 2022

RALEIGH — The race is tightening for candidates across the board in North Carolina’s November election, according to the latest Civitas Poll, released by the John Locke Foundation. The August poll of likely North Carolina voters puts the leading U.S. Senate candidates, Republican Ted Budd and Democrat Cheri Beasley, at an exact tie. Both garnered 42.3% of voters’ support, though, 12.6% of North Carolinians remain undecided. Another 2.7% support Libertarian and Green Party candidates.

In other contests, the leads Republicans saw in previous months are starting to close. In June, GOP candidates had an 11.4-point lead over Democratic party candidates on the generic state legislature ballot. Now, that gap has narrowed to 5 points; 47.9% of voters in the poll responded they will “definitely” or “probably” vote for a GOP candidate, while 42.9% said the same for a Democratic candidate.   

“This Senate race is shaping into the barn-burner that politicos around the nation have been expecting,” said John Locke Foundation President Donald Bryson. “The race is tied, and some of that is due to typical race tightening as we approach Election Day. Budd has been running behind the generic Republican in our polls this year, and this survey continues that trend.” 

Both President Joe Biden and Gov. Roy Cooper saw gains in their approval ratings this month. Biden’s approval rating went up from 32.9% in June to 38.7% in August. However, the president still has an approval rating 17 points lower than his disapproval rating, which clocked in at 56.1%. Cooper’s approval rating, on the other hand, came in higher than his disapproval rating, with 46.8% of respondents “strongly” or “somewhat” approving of his job in office, and 43.3% “strongly” or “somewhat” disapproving. This marks the first month Cooper’s approval rating exceeded his disapproval rating in the Civitas Poll since April 2022

This month’s poll included questions regarding North Carolinians’ trust in governmental institutions. Most North Carolinians, 70.7%, had little to no faith in Congress, and only 4.1% expressed “a great deal” of confidence in it. Similarly, less than half of likely North Carolina voters expressed trust in the Supreme Court or the FBI. The majority of those who have little or no trust in the Supreme Court identify as Democrats, while a majority of those who have little or no trust in the FBI identify as Republicans. A total of 74.2% of Republicans said they have little or no trust in the FBI, and 77.0% of Democrats said they have little or no trust in the Supreme Court. 

“More and more governmental institutions are losing the trust of the American people. The findings of our questions on institutional trust align with the lack of faith we are seeing in our election systems – with less than half of North Carolinians believing this year’s elections will be free and fair in previous surveys,” Bryson said.  

The August poll also contained several questions on the issue of abortion, following the release of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Forty-eight percent of North Carolinians self-identified as pro-choice, and 39% self-identified as pro-life, but when asked about abortion restrictions, only 29.8% of respondents said abortions should always be legal with no restrictions, whereas 21.1% of participants said abortion should generally be legal with some restrictions, 34.9% said it should generally be illegal with some exceptions, and 7.1% said abortion should never be allowed under any circumstances. 

When it comes to specific abortion policies, a sizable minority of respondents (40.4%) approved of Joe Biden’s recent executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services “to consider using Medicaid to pay for expenses for those who cross state lines to seek abortions.” However, 50.3% disapproved of that executive order to potentially allow Medicaid dollars to be used to pay for out-of-state abortions. When it comes to North Carolina law, the state is divided on the state’s 1973 abortion law. Forty-four percent of participants approved of reinstating the 20-week abortion ban, while 42.6% disapproved – a difference within the poll’s 3.9% margin of error. 

One thing that the vast majority of North Carolinians can agree on is a shared concern about gas prices. An overwhelming majority of respondents, 87.7%, said they were concerned about energy and gas prices in the state. A majority of survey participants (60.3%) also stated they would support a federal law to “dramatically increase oil and gas drilling in the United States.” Only 37.4% of respondents said the state should prioritize the environment at the risk of higher energy prices, while 45.5% said N.C. lawmakers should prioritize affordability and reliability in energy over carbon emissions; 17.1% responded they were unsure.