June 23, 2022

RALEIGH — North Carolinians are feeling the economic pain inflicted by historic inflation. Three-fourths of likely N.C. general election voters believe America is in a recession, according to the latest Civitas Poll, released by the John Locke Foundation. Nearly three in five voters find it difficult to afford food right now.  

“North Carolinians have been thrown into an unstable economy courtesy of short-sighted monetary policy at the federal level. The Feds ‘print and run’ the economy hot approach is hitting voters in the most personal of ways, such as limiting their ability to feed and shelter their families and commute to work,” said Locke President Donald Bryson. 

The latest Civitas Poll showed multiple markers of an electorate unhappy with the economy. When asked about the seriousness of the current inflation rate, 88.4% responded inflation is a “huge” problem with another 8.7% saying it was a “minor” problem. Of the 600 respondents, only five — less than 1% — responded that inflation was a nonissue. 

In addition to food, the poll questioned respondents about how challenging they find it to pay for housing and gas. While 61.8% said they find it difficult to pay for housing, 76.1% found it difficult to afford gas. These numbers don’t bode well for the Biden administration, as 77.7% of survey participants believe that President Biden carries some or all of the responsibility for the historically high rate of inflation, and 60.7% believe that the policies of the federal government are affecting gas prices more than the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

When asked whether respondents approved or disapproved of the job President Biden is doing, 32.9% responded they “strongly” or “somewhat” approve. These findings are similar to last month’s poll which found a 33.3% approval rating. 

In a generic ballot test, Republican candidates are currently outperforming Democratic candidates. Were the race held today, 51.5% of respondents said they would vote for a Republican congressional candidate, as compared to 41.0% who responded they would vote for the Democratic candidate. When asked about the Senate race, 45.0% of survey participants said they would “definitely” or “probably” vote for Republican Ted Budd, whereas 40.3% responded the same for Democrat Cheri Beasley. 

“It is a rule of politics that the president’s party loses ground in midterm elections, but the economic outlook of voters may bring the pain of that rule to bear on Democrats in November,” said Bryson. “A firm majority of voters are squarely placing blame for inflation and a potential recession on Joe Biden and the federal government; that is likely to have massive electoral coattail effects.” 

North Carolina’s urban-rural divide is noteworthy in the Senate race poll, as Budd outperforms Beasley in rural areas by 13.7 points, while Beasley outperforms Budd in urban areas by 12.9 points. The suburban split is only 2.5 percentage points apart, which falls within the survey’s 3.95% margin of error. Budd is significantly outperforming Beasley on the North Carolina coast; where 59.9% responded in favor of Budd for the Senate race, while just 26.3% responded in favor of Beasley. Beasley is, however, outperforming Budd with self-identified moderates; 60.5% of moderates in the poll responded they will definitely or probably vote for Beasley, while just 25.1% said the same for Budd.  

The poll included two questions about presidential election legitimacy. The first asked about the legitimacy of the 2016 election, and the second question asked about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. More survey respondents answered that they believe the 2016 presidential election was legitimate than the 2020 presidential election, with 68.4% saying Donald Trump legitimately won the 2016 presidential election, and 58.4% saying Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election. Participants who voted for a Democratic candidate in 2020 were more likely to say the election outcome was legitimate when the Democratic presidential candidate won, and participants who voted for a Republican candidate in 2020 were more likely to say the election outcome was legitimate when the Republican presidential candidate won. 

A nearly unanimous majority (96.9%) of voters who voted for Joe Biden in 2020 said that the outcome of the 2020 presidential election was legitimate, but only 48.8% were likely to say the outcome of the 2016 election was legitimate. Trump voters were less likely to be confident in the outcome of a presidential election overall, with 87.8% of voters who voted for Donald Trump in 2020 saying that the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was legitimate, and only 21.5% likely to say the outcome of the 2020 election was legitimate. 

Methodology: This probabilistic survey was conducted June 17 – 19, 2022, with 600 likely general election voters, by Cygnal. It has a margin of error of ±3.95%. Known registered voters were interviewed via live phones, SMS, and email invitation. This survey was weighted to a likely general election voter universe.