WRAL News poll: Economy, health care top issues on voters' minds

Posted October 21, 2014

— As North Carolina voters head to the polls, starting Thursday, the economy remains top of mind for most, according to an exclusive WRAL News poll released Tuesday.

SurveyUSA polled 568 likely voters across North Carolina between Thursday and Monday and found that the economy is the most important issue for 40 percent of them as they approach the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

Tillis holds a sizable lead among voters most concerned about the economy, at 54 percent to Hagan's 37 percent, according to the poll.

Hagan, meanwhile, scores well among voters who cite education or health care as their top priorities in the race. Health care was the No. 2 priority overall in the poll, at 20 percent of respondents, followed closely by education, at 17 percent. Voters concerned about health care favor Hagan 47-40 percent over Tillis, while those who say education is their top priority in the race gave her an overwhelming 83-9 percent edge.

Hagan's campaign and outside groups backing her have repeatedly hammered Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, over the education budgets approved by state lawmakers in recent years. The General Assembly approved a pay raise for teachers this year, but veteran educators have complained that they were shortchanged in the pay-raise plan, and others have said it came at the price of hundreds of teaching assistant jobs and other classroom support.

Fifty-two percent of the 750 adults surveyed in the WRAL News poll said the pay raise wasn't enough, while 34 percent said they thought lawmakers "got it right" with their plan and 8 percent said it was too much. Older people were more likely than younger ones to say that the pay raise wasn't enough. Blacks and those calling themselves political moderates also thought lawmakers should do more for teachers. Those who identified as conservatives, on the other hand, were most likely to say the raise was too much.

On the issue of health care, half of the poll respondents said all or "large portions" of the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. Only 15 percent said the law should be left alone, while 31 percent said adjustments are needed. There was a clear racial divide among the responses, with 61 percent of whites calling for a total or partial repeal, and only 12 percent of blacks backing such as move in Congress.

Tillis' campaign has tied Hagan to the health care law, which some call "Obamacare," saying she cast the deciding vote in the Senate when it was approved four years ago.

More recently, his campaign and outside groups backing him have criticized Hagan for her attendance at Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, saying she has missed critical information regarding U.S. plans for handling Islamic militants.

Despite such ads and Tillis mentioning the issue in two of three Senate debates this fall, foreign policy scored low in the WRAL News poll, with only 7 percent of voters saying it was their primary concern in the Senate race. "Other" issues had an 8 percent response, by comparison. Tillis holds a sizable lead among the voters concerned with foreign policy, at 69-19 percent over Hagan.

The majority of the 750 poll respondents said they disapprove of the way President Barack Obama has handled the Islamic State militants, or ISIS, with only 29 percent approving. That may be a function of Obama's low approval ratings overall, however, as 73 percent said they favor continuing the U.S. air strikes Obama ordered against ISIS.

Respondents were more evenly divided on the question of arming Syrian rebels to fight ISIS and sending U.S. troops back into Iraq and into Syria to fight on the ground. Forty-two percent favor supplying arms and training, compared with 39 percent who oppose. A third favor sending in U.S. ground troops, while 47 percent said they are opposed to such a move.

Taxes and the environment rounded out the field of issues voters consider top concerns in the Senate race, with 4 and 2 percent of respondents, respectively.


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  • arfamr1010 Oct 23, 2014

    View quoted thread

    As time Magazine's "liar of the year"...whats false about that statement?

  • lessismore Oct 22, 2014

    Wrong.....not to the left wing nuts....they want more welfare, more government to take from the rich and give to the lazy.

  • miseem Oct 22, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Seems like history and facts are not big issues for some people. I have never seen a document indicating anywhere close to 34 million illegals in this country, but I'm sure you can provide the back up on it. And if you want to start talking about wars, we need look no further back that 2003 to see two very costly, mismanaged "conflicts" brought to you by your friendly GOP. And of course, I'm sure you have evidence that Obama is behind the creation and spread Ebola, and although Obama may be less than honest sometimes, I'm sure you can provide an extensive list of Republican politicians who are always truthful, never spin or cherry pick issues and are more concerned about the nation than their political careers. At least until they get kicked out and land a multi-million dollar post in a private investment house. And I'm positive you can cite numerous examples of Tillis taking actions proving his concern about women, elderly and kids.

  • Grand Union Oct 22, 2014

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    Do you really believe that? Sad.

  • miseem Oct 22, 2014

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    I did not say anything about the old days. I just presented a short list of things the GOP has done in the last few years to set the lower and middle income citizens of NC back. And to reduce environmental protections. Seems the whining and living in the past is coming from the right. I wonder what they are afraid of?

  • miseem Oct 22, 2014

    It just shows how if you repeat something often enough, people start believing it. The fact that the leader of the GOP House in NC could be lauded as good for the economy is a perfect example of that. Loosening environmental regulations, coming up with the proposal that solar powered fans will clear up pollution in Jordan Lake, offsetting a slight income tax reduction with higher sales taxes on more items, not lifting or at least raising a cap on yachts and planes, refusing to accept hundreds of millions of dollars for Medicaid expansion, losing tens of millions in federal unemployment funds by drastically slicing payments and duration of benefits. The wasting taxpayer's money by hiring private law firms to defend illegal legislation. This is just the short list. And despite the slight drop in unemployment in September, the total number of people employed in NC dropped. Right. Fewer people in NC working in September than August. That's great economic news.

  • Jason Conaway Oct 21, 2014
    user avatar

    Doesnt matter. All that matters is what one judge has to say about it.

  • Steve Lancaster Oct 21, 2014
    user avatar

    The only Poll that will count is in two weeks, ok, then we can see if we trust this one.