Slightly more than half of North Carolina voters say the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is a “serious matter” that could reveal corruption in President Donald Trump’s administration, while about 40 percent dismiss it as “just politics,” the most recent Elon University Poll has found.
About half believe further investigation is likely to reveal criminal activity by the president, his family or senior leaders in his administration, the poll found.
The live-caller, landline and cellphone survey of 771 registered voters in North Carolina was conducted Nov. 6–9. Results have a margin of error 3.5 percent. (More information on the scientific poll's methodology can be found at the poll's website.)
Trump’s approval rating in the state has improved slightly during the past month, with 37 percent now approving of how he is handling the job of president, compared to 34 percent in results released Oct. 3.
“This increase over the last month is largely due to a small group of Republicans who previously disapproved or were unsure,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon University Poll and assistant professor of political science.
Close to 50 percent of North Carolina voters approve of how Gov. Roy Cooper is handling his job, while less than a third approve of how Republican U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis are handling theirs.
Asked whether the senators should be more or less supportive of the president, 46 percent said Burr and Tillis should be less supportive, compared to 38.5 percent who said they should back the president more.
Fifty-two percent of North Carolina voters said the media are biased against Trump. Forty-four percent said they see no media bias against the president.
Asked about the tensions between the United States and North Korea, a quarter of respondents said those tensions could lead either side to use nuclear weapons within the next year, while 62 percent said that is unlikely.
Opinion about former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is divided according to what North Carolina voters think about the job Trump is doing.
Among those who approve of Trump’s performance as president, 85 percent said the investigation won’t reveal criminal activity by Trump, his family or his senior leaders. Similarly, 77 percent of Trump supporters said they believe the investigation is “just politics.”
Among those who disapprove of the job Trump is doing, 78 percent expect the investigation to uncover additional criminal activity, and 81 percent called the investigation a “serious matter.”
Independents were more evenly divided on the questions than those affiliated with the two parties, with 51 percent calling the investigation a “serious matter,” compared to 38 percent who said it’s “just politics.” Forty-eight percent of independents expect additional criminal activity to be found; 40 percent don’t.
Female voters, black voters and voters from urban areas were more likely to call the investigation a “serious matter.” Older voters were more likely to say politics was driving it.
“North Carolina voters live in almost different worlds when it comes to perceptions of the Russia investigation,” Husser said. “Democrats overwhelmingly say it is a serious matter, while Republicans consistently think it is just politics. The investigation also motivated Trump supporters and opponents to voter in the upcoming midterm elections, but at least right now, more Democrats are being motivated than Republicans.”
Approval ratings, media bias
Both of North Carolina’s U.S. senators saw less than a third of the state’s voters signing off on their performance in Washington, with about the same-size segment saying they don’t know how the two Republicans are doing.
For Burr, 31 percent approved of the job he’s doing, while 40.5 percent didn’t, and 27 percent didn’t know. For Tillis, 28 percent approved of how he’s handling his job, while 41 percent didn’t and 30 percent didn’t know.
Tillis’s rating is essentially unchanged since an April Elon Poll, when it was 29 percent. Burr’s change has been more dramatic, going from 39 percent approval in April to 31 percent.
Both senators enjoyed more support among whites, males, older voters and rural voters.
Forty-nine percent of voters approved the performance of Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat. Thirty percent disapproved, and 20 percent said they didn’t know.
Cooper has some support among those who also support Trump. Among those who approve of the job Trump is doing, 26 percent also approve of Cooper’s job performance.
Cooper’s approval rating is essentially unchanged since April, moving from 48 percent then to 49 percent now.
Turning to media bias, the poll has found that even some of Trump’s detractors believe the president may not be getting a fair shake. Among those who disapprove of his performance, 22 percent say the media are biased against him. Among those who approve of his performance, 92 percent said they detect anti-Trump bias in the media.
Sixty-five percent of men and 40 percent of women said the media are biased against Trump, as did 62 percent of whites and 23 percent of blacks.
Tensions between North Korea and the United States remain high, and about one in four poll respondents say nuclear weapons could be used by either country within the next 12 months.
Forty-one percent of Democrats, 15 percent of independents and 11 percent of Republicans said nuclear weapons could be used in the next year.
“Whether one sees that level of worry as high is largely subjective, but we know Democrats are much more likely to be on edge right now about the worst-case scenario with North Korea,” Husser said.
Twenty-seven percent of Baby Boomers said nuclear weapons could be used, women are more likely than men to say so, and blacks are more likely than whites.
Thirty-one percent of those who disapprove of Trump’s performance said nuclear weapons could be used, compared with 14 percent of those who approved of his performance.