North Carolina voters aren't responding very positively to the new Republican legislature and if there was an election today Democrats would almost definitely win back some of the seats they lost in November, although it probably would not be enough to get the majority back.
38% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of the Republicans in the General Assembly, while 39% rate them unfavorably. The key finding there is that independent voters, who gave GOP legislative candidates a 20 point advantage at the polls last year, now rate the new majority negatively by a 37/26 spread.
The day before the election last fall PPP found voters in the state planning to vote Republican for the legislature by an 11 point margin at 51-40. That wide spread was what allowed the GOP to not only take the majority in the state House and Senate but do so by a wide margin. Now North Carolinians still say they'd vote for the GOP, but only 45-41. The state's already moved 7 points back toward the Democrats after a couple of months of Republican control.
Two key shifts are driving the movement back toward the Democrats. Although independents still say they'd vote Republican by an 8 point margin that's down quite a bit from 20 points in November. And whereas 18% of Democrats crossed party lines to support GOP candidates in the fall, now only 12% say they'd so if they had to vote again today. Some of those more conservative Democrats who were disgusted with their party last year are finding they don't like the alternative very much either.
What's driving this move away from the Republicans? They may be over reaching a little bit with some of their legislative goals. For instance we find that 67% of voters in the state are opposed to a bill being pushed by the GOP that would allow concealed handgun permit holders to bring their weapons into parks and restaurants that serve alcohol. Only 23% of voters think it's a good idea. Democrats are predictably the strongest in their opposition (81%) but majorities of independents (57%) and Republicans (54%) are against it as well. This is an instance where the Republicans in the General Assembly are getting a little ahead even of their own party base, not to mention the electorate as a whole.
Why do the Republicans still have the generic ballot advantage, even if voters have soured on them somewhat? They still poll better than legislative Democrats, whose favorability is 34/46. Nevertheless it's a good sign for Democrats in the state that things have started to move back in their direction and if it's come this far after just two months of Republican control it definitely seems possible the party could be in a position to retake control of the legislature by next November.
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