In our poll this month, we once again tested voters’ opinion on privatizing the ABC system of government-run liquor stores. While we found increased support for privatization, some very deep divides emerged in the crosstabs that present some fairly large hurdles for privatization advocates to overcome.
While privatizing was supported by 47% of North Carolinians overall , it was opposed by 50% of African-Americans and 49% of people who consider themselves to be part of the “religious right.” Two quite powerful interest groups on opposite sides of the aisle.
Mainly, the fear of these groups is that removing government control from the ABC system will result in an increased availability and consumption of hard liquor.
Although it may be the most free-market solution, I think it’s unrealistic to think that North Carolina is going to go from the tightly-controlled limited access system we have now to one like many other states where liquor is available on every corner in convenience stores. The process of privatization will come through many steps.
Gov. Perdue is taking a good first step to determine the value of the assets of the system, but I think there is going to be little motivation for the General Assembly to tackle this monster during the short session. More than likely some minor ethics reforms will be passed to address the controversies in Wilmington and Charlotte and any major reform or privatization of the system will have to wait until 2011.
Full press release and crosstabs from this question from the poll here.