Roy Cooper is getting it right

Published May 14, 2020

By Thomas Mills

Roy Cooper is showing us the difference between competent government and the mess in Washington. While Republicans complain that he’s re-opening the state too slowly, the governor still has the support of the vast majority of North Carolinians. Polls show people are more concerned about their safety than their financial situations. While that attitude will certainly change, Cooper is moving the state out of the shutdown in a methodical way that has broad support.

A Hight Point University poll shows that voters approve of Cooper’s job performance by 40 points, 60% approve, 20% disapprove. They also trust the way state government is handling the situation with 72% saying it is “reacting about right.” These numbers line up with a Meredith College poll taken about the same that shows Cooper with a 61-25 approval rating with 76% agreeing with his decision to open in phases beginning in May. 

In contrast, both polls show confidence in Trump is low. In the Meredith survey, a majority, 53%, disapprove of the way he’s handling his job and only 41% approve. By a 37% margin, the respondents trust Cooper more than Trump to decide when to re-open the state. In the High Point survey, the electorate is more evenly split with 46% disapproving, 44% approving of the way Trump is performing.

 Cooper has kept the public informed with almost daily briefings on the pandemic and the course he’s taking. He and Health and Human Resources Secretary Mandy Cohen have laid out a phased-in plan for re-opening that has benchmarks and is based on recommendations of public health experts. They have explained it well and keep the public informed of progress. Cooper and Cohen look measured, thoughtful and informed. They have instilled the confidence that the president has not.

In contrast, Republicans have taken to social media to bash Cooper for opening too slowly and lacking transparency. They cheer on the ReOpenNC rallies that have declining participation and sit silent while a bunch on knuckle-draggers armed with rocket-launchers and assault weapons menacingly wander the streets in downtown Raleigh. They’ve done little to counter the movement among conspiracy theorists who want to demonize wearing masks, a preventative measure that could drastically reduce the spread of the virus. All in all, conservatives look out of touch with all but the most ardent of their base and they’re starting lose the older segment of that. 

 Cooper is offering a contrast that could resonate in the November elections. He’s showing how Democrats might govern in Washington. His approach is measured, fact-based and detailed. His briefings are serious and respectful in contrast to the Trump shows that tend to end in him making childish insults. Cooper is reminding us what responsible, serious governing looks like. A lot of people want a return to that type of normalcy.