UPDATED: McCrory disapproval up in latest HPU Poll

Feb. 24, 2014 @ 02:10 PM

UPDATED 2:10 P.M.

The number of North Carolinians who disapprove of the performance of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory increased in the latest High Point University Poll that surveyed state residents in the wake of the Dan River coal ash spill.
In the poll released Monday, McCrory’s approval level didn’t change significantly from the previous survey. McCrory’s approval stood at 36 percent in the latest poll compared to 37 percent in the last one.
However, the number of North Carolinians surveyed who disapprove of the governor’s performance increased to 49 percent in the latest poll compared to 40 percent in the previous one. The remaining people polled either didn’t express an opinion or declined to answer.
North Carolina residents were surveyed from Feb. 16-20 for the latest HPU Poll, which appears to be one of the first independent polls to release survey results on the governor since the spill at a closed Duke Energy Corp. plant on the Dan River. The previous HPU Poll involved a survey in late January that was conducted just prior to the coal ash spill, which happened on Feb. 2.
Federal prosecutors are investigating the spill, the third-largest of its kind in U.S. history, for possible criminal violations. Toxic ash now coats the bottom of the riverbed up to 70 miles downstream from the spill site in Eden near the Virginia border in Rockingham County.
Before becoming governor after winning the 2012 election, McCrory spent nearly 30 years as an employee with Duke Energy. During McCrory’s 2008 and 2012 gubernatorial campaigns, contributions either directly or through outside groups from Duke Energy totaled $1.1 million, according to the political organization Democracy North Carolina. Duke Energy was the single-largest contributor to McCrory’s campaigns during his two gubernatorial bids, according to the Durham-based group.
The HPU Poll didn’t ask people about the Dan River spill, though it’s possible that the spill may factor into McCrory’s disapproval numbers, said Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science and director of the university poll.
“We’ll keep watching to see if this is a trend,” Kifer told The High Point Enterprise.
Other findings from the latest HPU Poll:
• Democratic President Barack Obama’s numbers are slightly better in the state, but still at a low level. The president’s approval rating inched up from 40 percent in the previous poll to 42 percent, and his disapproval rating slipped slightly from 54 percent to 51 percent.
• Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who faces re-election this year, remained at a poor level in the survey. Hagan’s approval edged up from 33 percent to 36 percent, but her disapproval rating widened from 43 percent to 47 percent.
• Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who doesn’t face re-election until 2016, also posted miserable numbers. Burr’s approval rating remained at 30 percent, and his disapproval level increased from 29 percent in the previous survey to 36 percent in the latest one.

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528