October 25, 2022

RALEIGH – Today, the John Locke Foundation released its latest Civitas Poll, which shows GOP candidates in North Carolina surging ahead in generic ballot tests and head-to-head races, including the race for U.S. Senate.  

Congressman Ted Budd (R) has the support of 46.9% of North Carolina voters in the U.S. Senate race, which is up three points from September (43.7%). However, with Cheri Beasley (D) garnering 43.1% of the vote, this race still falls within the poll’s ±3.99% margin of error. The two previous Civitas Polls, in August and September, had the race dead even. 

The poll found a majority (50.3%) of North Carolinians plan to vote for a Republican candidate in the U.S. Congressional race – a six-point lead over Democratic candidates (44.2%). Republicans have made similar gains in the races for state legislature, with (50.1%) of voters planning to vote for a Republican, up 3.5 points from 46.6% of voters last month. The results indicate that independents now prefer Republicans by four percent after preferring Democrats by six percent in September.

“Although polls are not predictive, these results are not where you want to be if you are a North Carolina Democrat in October,” said John Locke Foundation President Donald Bryson. “While a majority of voters say they will vote for the generic Republican candidate for state legislature and Congress, a majority also say they’re making the intentional decision to vote to create checks-and-balances for Gov. Roy Cooper.” 

When asked whether North Carolinians preferred a Democratic Governor with a Democratic legislature over a Democratic Governor with a Republican legislature, the majority of voters preferred the latter (50.6%) over the former (39.5%). 

The races for the two state Supreme Court seats hold some of the widest margins, with Republican Trey Allen holding a 7.4% lead over his Democratic opponent, incumbent Sam J. Ervin. While 8.6% of voters are undecided in this race, 49.4% of North Carolinians plan to vote for Allen and 42% plan to vote for Ervin. Republican Supreme Court Candidate Richard Dietz is leading in his race as well, with 48.5% of the voter support over 42.4% for Lucy Inman. 

Bryson continued, “These two races will change the face of the court for at least four years. All Republicans have to do is win one of the two seats and they are guaranteed a majority through 2027-if they win both, then the GOP seals a Supreme Court majority through 2028.” 

The economy is at the top of the ticket this year, with 88.5% of North Carolinians expressing concern over the price of groceries and 64.7% of voters stating inflation is a primary issue influencing their vote. Abortion also is playing a critical, though lesser, role in voters’ decisions, with 58% of voters agreeing it is a primary issue influencing how they cast their ballot this year. When asked to choose the most important issue, a combined 45.7% of voters said the economy or inflation (30.8% and 14.9%, respectively), while 18.3% said abortion. 

Nearly three-fourths (72.5%) of North Carolinians are pessimistic about the direction the country is going – up from two-thirds in September (66%). While the consensus amongst former Trump voters is nearly unanimous (98% wrong track), Biden voters are nearly evenly divided with 44% believing the country is on the wrong track, and 45% believing it is on the right track. Those who voted for Biden in 2020 are also divided on whether he should run for reelection in 2024, with 43% saying yes, and 40% saying no. Of all the respondents, 64.6% of voters believe Joe Biden should not run for reelection. Even of those who approve of the job Joe Biden is doing as president, only 19% of them believe he should “definitely” run for reelection. 

Gov. Roy Cooper, on the other hand, faces significantly less objection than the President. His approval rating clocks in at 46.4% – eight percent higher than Biden’s (38.4%) – and the percentage of people who would support him running for vice president in 2024 (40.8%) is nearly fifteen points higher than the percentage of people who think Biden should run for reelection (26%). Even so, the majority of North Carolina voters prefer to see Democratic Gov. Cooper countered by a Republican legislature, “to act as a check-and-balance to the Governor and his agenda,” indicating their preference for a divided government more than a partisan mandate in the state capitol.