The most recent Meredith Poll, in the field February 3-7, 2023, asked North Carolina voters about their understanding of and confidence in election administration in the state, and about their approval of several key policy issues including abortion, Medicaid expansion, and the legalization of medical marijuana and sports betting.
The poll also surveyed voters about their satisfaction with the direction of the country and state, and approval of job performance of President Joe Biden and Governor Roy Cooper.
Highlights of the Meredith Poll findings on election administration and policy issues are below.
For complete results, view the full report
The way in which elections are conducted is much on the minds of North Carolinians, as it is on the minds of citizens around the country, as a result of claims and conspiracies about election integrity since the 2020 presidential election. The good news is that a large majority of respondents (76.2%) were aware that election administration in North Carolina was conducted at the county level. Also, over 80 percent of respondents would be concerned if a county lacked resources the county needed to adequately administer elections.
In terms of potential problems with election administration, large majorities of North Carolinians would be concerned if county board of election members “went rogue” and decided to violate state election law and administer election processes according to other methods (76.4%), or if one or more of these county board of election members disagreed with their oaths of office and changed the way in which an election winner was determined (82.2%). In both cases, less than four percent of those surveyed indicated that they would have little or no concern for these issues.
It is worth noting that in terms of knowledge about county administration of elections, as well as concern about maintaining the viability and integrity of election administration, there were no significant differences among demographic groups. Democrats care just as much about these issues as Republicans and unaffiliated voters do.
“North Carolina has a long history of well-administered elections that are overseen by county board of elections members who maintain professional standards,” said Meredith Poll Director David McLennan. “It is good to see that North Carolinians support this system and would be concerned if anyone violated election law to potentially subvert the will of the people.”
No issue divides North Carolinians like abortion. While over half of our respondents wanted to keep North Carolina’s current law about abortion access (20 weeks) or expand it, over one-third of voters want to restrict access to abortion even further or ban access completely. A plurality of respondents (30.9%) wants to keep the current law.
The division over abortion law is entirely partisan. Over three-quarters of Democrats want to keep the current law untouched or expand abortion access, while almost 60 percent of Republicans want to further restrict access to abortions or ban access altogether. A majority of unaffiliated voters (59.3%) would prefer keeping the 20-week ban or expanding access further.
“The abortion issue should continue to affect North Carolina politics long after the 2023 long session of the General Assembly,” said McLennan. “There appears to be momentum among Republicans in the legislature to further restrict a woman’s access to abortion services. Passing a restrictive abortion law may put some Republican-held seats in play in the 2024 elections.”
Since being authorized in the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and subsequent Supreme Court decision (National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 2012), states have been allowed to expand Medicaid coverage with much of the costs for doing so incurred by the federal government. North Carolina is one of eleven states that has not done so, despite large majorities of citizens favoring such expansion. As with previous Meredith Polls on this subject, over 70 percent of our respondents favored expanding Medicaid coverage in the state. All demographic groups, except those who identified as being most conservative, had a majority of their respondents favoring expansion. Among those in the group of very conservative respondents, over 46 percent favored Medicaid’s expansion.
“Although North Carolina has not expanded Medicaid in the past, despite strong public support,” said McLennan, “there appears to be momentum in the legislature to expand it during this session. One roadblock has been the ‘Certificate of Need’ issue and there seems to be some interest among Republicans to separate this issue from Medicaid expansion.”
Another issue with a history of strong public support in North Carolina is legalizing medical marijuana. Almost three-quarters of our respondents (73%) favored legalizing medical marijuana with majorities in every demographic group supporting this effort.
“There may be enough new members in the legislature to get the legalization of medical marijuana across the finish line in 2023,” said McLennan. “It appeared like a few, older members of the legislature had blocked medical marijuana legalization in the past.”
Although sports betting is a booming industry in the United States and many states allow live sports betting through apps like DraftKings, this issue divides North Carolinians. A plurality of respondents (46.3%) favor legalizing this form of gambling, but over one-third of North Carolinians are opposed and almost 20 percent don’t know enough about the issue. Legalizing sports betting is favored more by men than women, people who live in urban areas more than in other areas, and people who describe themselves as more liberal than those who describe themselves as more conservative.
“This is a policy issue that may come down to which side has the more powerful interest groups,” said McLennan. “If the gaming industry invests in a lot of advocacy and lobbying, a bill legalizing sports betting could pass. If the socially conservative interest groups ramp up their efforts, the bill may fail.
The Meredith Poll conducted a survey of North Carolina registered voters. The online sample–from Dynata–used a quota based on the most recent U.S. Census estimates of North Carolina to sample our respondents. After the survey was completed, we weighted the survey for gender, party affiliation, geographic location, race and ethnicity, and education so that our sample most closely resembles North Carolina.
The sample had 973 respondents, giving us a confidence interval of +/- 3%. The survey was in the field from February 3-7, 2023.
About Meredith Poll
The Meredith Poll asks North Carolinians their opinions on a variety of social and political public issues. It is housed in the Department of History, Political Science, and International Studies at Meredith College, one of the largest women’s colleges in the Southeast. The Meredith Poll was launched in the spring of 2015 as part of Meredith’s commitment to civic engagement.