Carolina Issues Poll

Carolina Issues Poll May 2012

New poll shows strong support for election reform and concerns about casino gambling, fracking, hospital practices, repeal of consumer protections and impact of Amendment One.

With state lawmakers returning to Raleightomorrow afternoon to begin the 2012 legislative session, NC Policy Watch is happy to announce the release of the latest edition of its Carolina Issues Poll. This month’s poll quizzed 600 voters throughout the state between May 11 and 13 with respect to their attitudes on a host of timely issues that figure to be on the front burner at the General Assembly in coming weeks. Questions in the poll were developed by Policy Watch staff and then vetted and posed to registered voters by the nationally recognized, Raleigh-based polling firm Public Policy Polling. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4%.

Here are the results:

In keeping with similar results elsewhere, North Carolina votes expressed significant support for moving away from the state’s hyper-partisan legislative redistricting process and strong concerns about the flood of “Super Pac” money that has been inundating the electoral process.

Q1 Under current law, state legislators are responsible for drawing the maps of the districts that they and members of congress represent and in which they stand for election. Do you support or oppose a proposal advanced by election law reform groups that would turn this job over to an independent, nonpartisan commission?

Support ………………………………………………….. 47%

Oppose ………………………………………………….. 27%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 26%

Q2 In 2010, the United States Supreme Court ruled that corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals can spend unlimited amounts of money to directly influence the outcome of elections without disclosing it to the public. Since then, more and more candidates are relying upon so-called “Super PACs” funded by such groups and individuals to fund their campaigns. Do you think this is good or bad for our state?

Good idea ………………………………………………. 10%

Bad idea…………………………………………………. 82%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 8%


Another issue that the General Assembly seems likely to consider during the short session is gambling. According to legislative leaders, lawmakers will consider a bill that would ratify an agreement with the Cherokee Tribe to bring casino-style gambling to the Western North Carolina. A proposal to deal with the state’s ongoing controversy surrounding video poker and “sweepstakes” machines may also be on the table. On these issues, voters have real concerns.

Q3 North Carolina has long prohibited casino-style gambling with live dealers in the state. Large, out-of-state gambling corporations would like to change this, however, and are lobbying state officials and the Cherokee tribe to introduce casino gambling for the first time. Do you support or oppose the introduction of casino-style gambling?

Support ………………………………………………….. 38%

Oppose ………………………………………………….. 53%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 9%

Q4 Another controversy related to gambling centers around the video poker and so-called “sweepstakes” machines. Do you think the state should or should not be able to ban such machines in order to protect public health and safety?

NC should be able to ban them …………………. 55%

NC should not …………………………………………. 37%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 9%


A major controversy that has arisen in North Carolina policy circles in recent weeks concerns the issue of nonprofit hospital practices. A week-long series of reports coauthored by reporters for Raleigh’s News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer revealed, among other things, that many large, nonprofit hospitals with charity care policies have not informed their patients of the existence of these policies. Many have also continued to use aggressive debt collection practices in pursuing old debts, including placing liens on people’s homes. The new poll shows that voters strongly disapprove of both practices.

Q5 Currently, every nonprofit hospital inNorth Carolina has a policy that spells out who is entitled to free or reduced-price care if they are too poor to pay their bill. Many of these hospitals, however, do not inform all patients of these policies. Do you think that hospitals should be required to inform all patients of their policies for free and reduced-price care, or not?

Hospitals should be required to inform all patients of their policies for free and reduced price care……………………………………………………….81%

They should not …………………………………….. 12%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 7%

Q6 Current law allows hospitals to place liens on the homes of people who are unable to pay their hospital bills. This can make it impossible for the homeowner to sell or refinance, and can lead to foreclosure. Do you think hospitals should be able to place liens on the homes of people who are unable to pay their hospital bills, or not?

Hospitals should be able to……………………….. 14%

They should not ………………………………………. 77%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 9%


On another timely health care issue, voters of all stripes voiced strong support for retaining two key components of the Affordable Care Act – the federal health care reform law sometimes referred to as “Obamacare.”

Q7 Under the federal health care reform law known as the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, and parents may enroll their children in their family coverage until they reach age 26. Opponents of the law want to repeal these protections. Do you think these protections should be repealed, or not?

They should be repealed ………………………….. 24%

They should not ………………………………………. 65%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 11%


Last year in the General Assembly, industry lobbyists succeeding in advancing a bill though the House of Representatives that would repeal key provisions of a 2010 law known as the Homeowner and Homebuyer Protection Act. The bill, which is pending in the Senate, would severely limit protections against abusive practices found in foreclosure “rescue,” “lease with option to buy” and “contract for deed” transactions. Voters have grave concern about repealing these consumer protections.

Q8 In 2010,North Carolina adopted new laws designed to protect vulnerable homebuyers and homeowners from businesses who convince people to sign over the titles to their homes without any upfront payments. Businesses engaged in this industry claim the rules are too burdensome are now lobbying state lawmakers to repeal these consumer protections. Do you think these protections should be repealed, or not?

They should be repealed ………………………….. 17%

They should not ………………………………………. 55%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 28%


Yet another issue likely to be taken up by lawmakers in the coming weeks is fracking – the controversial procedure under which water and chemicals are injected underground to free up natural gas deposits. Here again, voters support a cautious approach.

Q9 Fracking is a controversial practice in which large amounts of water and chemicals are pumped underground under high pressure to unlock natural gas deposits. Opponents worry about a number of serious potential impacts on nearby communities and the environment. Supporters say these concerns are overblown. Do you thinkNorth Carolina should legalize fracking now or wait for more health and safety studies before proceeding?

NC should legalize fracking now………………… 31%

NC should wait for more health and safety studies………….63%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 6%


Finally, in the aftermath of the recent passage of a state constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage, there is new evidence that voters failed to understand the full impact of their action. When asked whether they thought it a good change that cities providing health insurance coverage to unmarried couples would likely have to halt the practice, a narrow plurality sad “no.” This result stands in sharp contrast to the final 61-39 approval that the measure received at the polls.

Q10 Now thatNorth Carolina has adopted a constitutional amendment banning state recognition of “any domestic legal union” other than a marriage between a man and a woman, employees of some cities may no longer be able to get health insurance coverage for their unmarried partners. Do you think this is a good change or a bad one?

Good change ………………………………………….. 43%

Bad change…………………………………………….. 44%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 13% 

To read the entire poll, as well as the crosstabs, click here.

Like this article?


Our work is supported by readers like you.

Help us to continue expanding our aggressive reporting and thoughtful commentaries. Make a tax-deductible financial contribution today!