North Carolina voters are fairly evenly split on privatizing the ABC system versus keeping it state-run according to our poll for January.
47% say keep the government in charge.
44% say let private businesses run it.
This issue presents a bit of a double-edged sword for many rural legislators, especially Republicans. While just about everyone agrees that the system needs reform (see Performance Evaluation Division report here), there is a danger of alienating the conservative religious voters who do not want widespread availability of hard liquor.
Yes, NC is a changing state, but there are still many elements of the old Bible Belt still alive as this issue shows. Just take a look at the breakdown by religion:
Baptists say keep ABC system by a 57-35 margin. But Catholics favor privatization by a 66-23 margin.