RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — One thing being a current statewide elected official does is it gives you a platform. But it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be a household name. Far from it. That includes North Carolina’s attorney general and lieutenant governor.
According to a new High Point University poll, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler’s approval edges both of them out. Troxler has not said if he is running for governor, but those who polled below him have declared their candidacy, including State Treasurer Dale Folwell. With numbers in the 30s they all have work to do.
“It is pretty close, right, and there’s room to build. That’s always with statewide officials, that’s the thing early on is everybody pretty much knows the governor, but they don’t necessarily know down the ballot. The people who have been serving them in these different agencies,” said Martin Kifer, chair and associate professor of political science at High Point University and the HPU poll director.
One person who is recognized is Gov. Roy Cooper (D). With a 49 percent approval rating, he easily bests our state’s two U.S. senators, Ted Budd (R) and Thom Tillis (R).
“Part of the reason that that keeps coming up is if you look deeper in the data he’s got crossover appeal even from Republicans. He may have a 30% approval rating with Republicans. He may have even higher approval rating with independents, so he, among all elected state elected officials, has that kind of dynamic working for him” Kifer said.
When it comes to what’s at top-of-mind, school safety continues to dominate the list of concerns followed by inflation, education, and health care.
“And we try and be inclusive of a lot of different things at the state level, but those haven’t moved very much and as soon as we put school safety in there, it rose to the top. It was something that, in a bipartisan way, people are really concerned about,” Kifer said.
While inflation is slowly ticking downward there is still plenty of angst among North Carolina voters. 84 percent of registered voters said inflation has affected whether they buy big-ticket items.
Kifer said “they still say prices are too high, even though we know that overall, even wages are going up, the unemployment rate is still relatively low, but inflation is something that people still say they’re seeing and is affecting the kinds of decisions they’re making.” Those decisions include how they spend their summer vacation.
Tourism is a major industry from the mountains to the coast. According to the N.C. Department of Commerce, it brought in $33.3 billion in 2022. 76 percent of voters said inflation has an impact on travel decisions.
“It looks like a lot of people are going to be out there doing stuff in the state and out of state. But they do say that they’re considering higher prices, particularly inflation gas prices, when they decide where they’re going to go,” said Martin.
49 percent of those polled also said inflation during the past year is worse than they expected while 46 percent said it’s not as bad or is about what they expected.
When it comes to inflation, voter sentiment will without a doubt be a major factor in the 2024 presidential election.
“The economy is always something that is either helpful to the incumbent or drags down the incumbent and that person’s party. And so that’s one of the things that we’re going to be seeing. People are not feeling particularly good about the economy right now, but that could change,” said Kifer.
Voters aren’t necessarily optimistic that it will change. 80 percent said it will be higher or about the same twelve months from now.