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Cooper leads Republican rivals in early gubernatorial matchups

Support for socialism is down
August 14, 2019


RALEIGH, N.C. – The August statewide Civitas Poll of likely North Carolina voters finds Gov. Roy Cooper with strong leads over the two 2020 Republican gubernatorial candidates currently in the race, as well as over former Gov. Pat McCrory. Both Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and State House Representative Holly Grange announced their candidacy last month.

When those surveyed were asked, “If the 2020 election for North Carolina Governor were held today, which of the following candidates would you vote for:”

Cooper v. Forest Cooper v. Grange Cooper v. McCrory
Cooper        48% Cooper          48% Cooper           47%
Forest          36% Grange          30% McCrory         38%
Undecided   15% Undecided     22% Undecided      14%

“Gov. Cooper has enjoyed positive favorability and job approval over the past few months, so these results are not a big surprise,” said Civitas Institute President Donald Bryson. “Expect these numbers to tighten as campaigning begins later this year in earnest. However, three key details to watch will be Cooper’s strong leads among moderates, unaffiliated voters, and his slim lead in the Charlotte media market.”

Likely voters were also asked about their support for socialism, a subject that has become more relevant to the current political discussion as several national elected officials, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have sought to make it a more politically palatable among Americans.

Respondents were asked: “Based on what you know, would you favor or oppose the United States’ political and economic system becoming more socialist?”

Strongly favor Somewhat favor Strongly oppose Somewhat oppose Unsure/Refused Total favor Total oppose
8% 13% 55% 9% 15% 21% 64%

This represents a slight decline in overall support for socialism since a February Civitas Poll found 23 percent favorability and 60 percent opposition.

An even stronger indication that North Carolinians are inclined to oppose socialism, however, is when they learn what socialism entails:

“As you may know, socialism is a political and economic system in which the government assumes control of much of private industry, including things like healthcare, education, banking, manufacturing, and energy production. Socialist countries aim to provide their citizens with basic services at the cost of significantly higher tax rates.

Now that you have heard this information, would you favor or oppose the United States’ political and economic system becoming more socialist?”

Strongly favor Somewhat favor Strongly oppose Somewhat oppose Unsure/Refused Total favor Total oppose
9% 10% 62% 10% 9% 19% 72%

Once socialism was defined, opposition to it grew the most among North Carolina’s youngest voters. Among 18 to 34-year-olds, opposition to socialism increased by 16 points after being provided greater clarification.

Bryson continued, “In the crosstabs of the presidential matchups, a plurality of Biden, Harris and Undecided voters oppose Socialism. This data suggests that Biden and Harris’s socialist-leaning rivals could fail to replicate a broader coalition of voters if chosen as the nominee.”

An earlier press release, highlighting matchups between President Trump and former Vice President Biden, and Senators Sanders, Warren, and Harris can be found here.

METHODOLOGY: The sample size for the survey is 500 likely voters in North Carolina and the margin of error is +/-4.38%. Responses were gathered via landline and mobile telephone interviews conducted by live callers at a professional call center. The survey was conducted August 1 – 4, 2019 by Harper Polling. The total percentages of responses may not equal 100% due to rounding. 

For questions, or to arrange an interview, please contact Brooke Medina, communications director, at

Civitas has conducted live-caller voting in North Carolina since May 2005, and we are the only public policy organization offering statewide independent, nonpartisan data on a regular basis. Our polls have provided vital insights on what North Carolina voters think of the leaders and issues facing the state and nation.

Founded in 2005, the Civitas Institute is a Raleigh, NC-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit policy organization committed to advancing conservative ideas and shrinking the size of government. Civitas fights to eliminate government barriers to freedom so that North Carolinians can live a better life.

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