Metro Weekly

North Carolinians split on McCrory returning to run for governor

Roy Cooper, McCrory's successor, is slightly more popular, but rematch would likely be a close race once again

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory – Photo: Hal Goodtree, via Wikimedia.

North Carolina voters are divided on whether they’d like to see Gov. Pat McCrory return to the governor’s mansion in 2020, according to a poll released last week.

Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning public opinion outfit, asked 657 registered voters about the prospect of McCrory mounting a campaign against Roy Cooper, who defeated him last November. According to the poll, 41% of voters would like to see McCrory run for governor again, while 44% say they don’t want him to run. 15% say they are unsure.

The poll also asked whether voters viewed McCrory favorably or unfavorably. Forty percent said they had a favorable opinion of him, while 41% said they had an unfavorable opinion. 

Voters surveyed also were divided on whether they see McCrory favorably or unfavorably. Forty percent said they had a favorable opinion of the Republican former governor, while 41 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion, and 18% said they weren’t sure.

When asked to compare McCrory with his successor, 44% of voters say they believe Roy Cooper has been a better governor than McCrory, while 37% thought McCrory was better, and 19% weren’t sure. Cooper’s approval rating is at 48%, while 33% disapprove of the job he’s doing as governor, and 19% aren’t sure.

The Republican-dominated North Carolina General Assembly is much less popular than either gubernatorial hopeful. Fifty-eight percent of voters surveyed say they disapprove of the job that lawmakers in Raleigh are doing, while 18% say they approve, and 25% say they’re unsure. Overall, voters viewed neither Republicans nor Democrats in the legislature favorably, with 46% disapproving of Democrats, and 55% disapproving of Republicans.

Voters say they are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates for the state legislature than Republicans, by a 46% to 40% margin, while 14% said they weren’t sure who they would support. (Of course, this doesn’t mean much, as North Carolina’s legislative districts are gerrymandered in favor of Republicans, and Democrats are packed into as few districts as possible. Therefore, Democrats would have to have a much more substantial edge in voter preference to win back seats in the legislature.)

McCrory and the Republican-dominated legislature became immensely unpopular following a series of controversial bills, including HB 2, a bill restricting transgender people’s access to restrooms and prohibiting localities from passing or enforcing pro-LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections. McCrory’s decision to sign HB 2 into law was cited as one of the major reasons behind his loss last year, particularly following an economic backlash against the bill. Because of objections to the bill’s discriminatory nature, concerts and conventions were cancelled, businesses chose to relocate to other states, and other businesses scuttled plans for expansion. 

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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