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Despite COVID-19 news, optimism persists among North Carolina voters

Trump and Cooper job approval ratings rise
March 20, 2020


RALEIGH – The latest Civitas Poll, conducted between March 15-17, 2020, asked likely voters across the state a variety of questions, including how closely they were following the coverage of the novel coronavirus, as well as their concern over contracting the disease, COVID-19, and their opinion on President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic:

How closely are you following the news about coronavirus?

74% following very closely
20% following somewhat closely

Taking into consideration both your risk of contracting it and the seriousness of the illness, how worried are you personally about experiencing coronavirus?

48% worried
51% not worried

Do you approve or disapprove of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak?

53% approve
41% disapprove

“Unsurprisingly, North Carolinians are concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Civitas Institute President Donald Bryson. “The heartening piece of data is that voters are showing faith in executive leadership, regardless of party, with both President Trump and Gov. Roy Cooper above water in approval ratings.”

The poll went into the field on Saturday, March 14, which is the same day that Gov. Cooper signed an executive order to close K-12 public schools and banning gatherings of more than 100 people, in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Cooper and President Trump are each enjoying their highest approval ratings in the Civitas Poll since the beginning of 2019. Gov. Cooper’s job approval rating is at 62 percent, surpassing his previous high of 58 percent in March 2019. President Trump’s job approval rating is at 52 percent, closely matching the Trump administration’s 53 percent approval for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Likely voters were also asked about top issues for them when going into the voting booth. When it comes to the leading federal policy issues driving their vote this fall, the leading two issues were healthcare and the economy. The economy is the top issue among Republicans (22%), healthcare is the top issue among Democrats (33%), and unaffiliated voters are split between the two issues (healthcare 19%, economy 18%).

The leading state policy issues motivating voters this year were education, the economy, and healthcare. Registered Republicans are more likely to choose the economy (17%), while Democrats are more likely to prioritize education (20%). Unaffiliated voters are split between education (18%) and the economy (17%).

Methodology: The sample size for the survey is 500 likely voters in North Carolina and the margin of error is +/-4.38% at a 95% confidence interval, meaning that if this survey were repeated, results would not vary from the population by more than 4.38 percentage points 19 times out of 20. Responses were gathered via landline and mobile telephone interviews conducted by live callers at a professional call center. Demographics were adjusted to reflect the population from which the sample was drawn. The survey was conducted March 15-17, 2020 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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