New Civitas poll shows how North Carolinians are thinking about leadership, the economy and crime

Published September 28, 2023

By Civitas Poll

Amongst an outcry from business communities in Raleigh, Asheville, and Wilmington, the latest Civitas Poll from the John Locke Foundation finds that two-thirds of North Carolinians are concerned about crime in their neighborhoods. When asked their top crime concerns, drug-related crimes made the top of voters’ lists, followed by property crime, then violent crime. Gang activity was the least-cited issue. White and Hispanic voters cited drug-related crimes as their top concern. Black voters identified violent crime as their primary public safety concern.  

“As North Carolina continues to experience a population and investment boom, municipalities will have both the opportunity and challenge of ensuring that public safety investment is prioritized," said Locke CEO Donald Bryson. "We’ve seen the decline in states with cities like San Francisco and Chicago, where crime goes unpunished. State and local leaders need to be proactive in ensuring our state remains safe and trusted as a good place to do business and raise a family."

Despite the prevalence of concerns about crime, most voters have confidence in the job their local police force is doing. Only 10% of respondents said their local police were doing a bad job at ensuring public safety. A majority (56.8%) said their police force was doing an “excellent” or “good” job, and a quarter (24.4%) said police performance was “fair.” Young voters (18 – 34) were the least likely to be concerned about their safety, while senior voters (65+) were the most likely to be worried. 

When it comes to national news, over 90% of North Carolinians are aware that the president’s son, Hunter Biden, has been under investigation for potential crimes related to his taxes, lobbying activities, and possible money laundering. A majority (52.4%) believe that Joe Biden was involved in Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and China while serving as Vice President, and a plurality (49.2%) think that Biden acted inappropriately regarding the investigation. Charlotte residents were more likely than Triangle residents to believe that the president acted inappropriately. 

This level of public skepticism about President Biden’s involvement in his son’s questionable business dealings comes during a time when his approval among likely NC voters is abysmally low, with only 35% approving of his job performance. 

“North Carolinians are split on the Hunter Biden scandal.” Bryson continued, “Joe Biden’s approval ratings in the state have been very low for a long time, and the investigation into his son has certainly not helped the president’s image.” 

The Civitas Poll also found that North Carolinians overwhelmingly support term limits for the state legislature’s top officials. When asked whether they would support or oppose term limits for the leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly – including the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate – 85% of survey participants said they were in favor of term limits. Less than five percent of voters opposed term limits. A plurality of participants said they want 4-year term limits (47.1%), followed by eight-year limits (18.5%), and six-year limits (18.4%). 

“The current leaders of the General Assembly are some of the longest tenured in the nation, and in state history,” said Bryson. “There is a broader appetite for legislative reform, as seen with the filing of Senate Bill 394 this session, and that conversation is overdue. Any move for legislative reform will almost certainly include a term limits conversation, and it’s clear that voters are in favor.” 

The poll also found that Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature have similarly lackluster favorability ratings. Both parties had a favorability rating hovering at 38%, with a plurality disapproving of the parties (44.2% and 45.5%, respectively). Gov. Roy Cooper fared slightly better with a favorability rating of 44.1% – a three-point improvement from last month’s poll.  

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This probabilistic survey was conducted September 24 – 25, 2023, with 600 likely general election voters. It has a margin of error of ±3.99%. Known registered voters were interviewed via live calls, and SMS. This survey was weighted to a likely general election voter universe.