Strong majorities in North Carolina support legalizing medical marijuana and expanding Medicaid, according to a new poll from Spectrum News and IPSOS.
The poll found that registered voters in the state are most concerned about inflation and affordable housing. It also found that a majority, 58%, approved of the way Gov. Roy Cooper is handling his job leading the state. That number is up from 53% in Oct. 2020.
The new poll, released Monday, surveyed 1,158 registered voters in North Carolina between March 31 and April 12. It has a margin of error of 4.2%. It included questions about politics, the economy, the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine, education and inflation.
With the primary campaigns for North Carolina’s open seat in the U.S. Senate in full swing, the poll asked voters how familiar they are with candidates running for the party nominations.
On the Republican side, former Gov. Pat McCrory had the highest name recognition, with 69%, followed by former Rep. Mark Walker. The former congressman is the frontrunner in the race, according to other recent polls, despite lagging in name recognition.
On the Democratic side, the party’s presumptive nominee Cheri Beasley had the highest name recognition at 25%, well behind the two leading Republican candidates. Beasley is a former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice and is currently touring the state with a series of stops to talk to voters and get her name out there more.
Name recognition for the other two Democratic candidates is well behind, in single digits.
The top issue North Carolina voters want the state’s next senator to address is rising prices, according to the poll. Voters on both sides of the aisle said they were concerned about inflation.
The opinions lined up with what voters said were the main problems facing North Carolina today.
“You’ve got about two-thirds of Republicans citing inflation or rising costs as the main issue, compared to just under half of Democrats,” said Mallory Newall, with polling company IPSOS. “We don’t always see agreement for what the main issue is from Democrats and Republicans.”
For voters, 42% said inflation or rising prices should be the top priority for the next person North Carolina sends to the U.S. Senate.
Inflation was followed by the economy, with 19%, health care with 18%, and education with 17%, the poll results show.
The answers are similar when asked what the federal government’s top priority should be next. The poll found 42% said it should be getting inflation under control, with 11% saying it should be getting COVID-19 under control. Nine percent said election reform should be the top priority.
The poll also asked North Carolina voters about three big policy issues up for debate this year: legalizing medical marijuana, expanding Medicaid and making sports gambling legal.
The poll found strong support for medical marijuana in North Carolina, but mixed results when it comes to legalizing betting on sports. There are bills to legalize both in the North Carolina General Assembly and legislators are expected to take them up in the short session beginning in May.
Expanding Medicaid has been a major issue in North Carolina for years, since states were offered more federal funding to expand the health care coverage to more people under Obamacare.
The Republican-led General Assembly has so far rejected the idea of expanding Medicaid. But in budget negotiations with the governor this year the legislature agreed to study the potential to cover more people under the federal program.
One of the biggest global issues right now is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The poll asked North Carolina voters about the United States’ response to the war and support for Ukraine.
The poll found strong support for supporting people fleeing the fighting, taking refugees and giving weapons to the Ukrainian military. But few people supported sending U.S. troops into combat in Ukraine.