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Are we headed for a ‘status quo’ election?

Trump and Cooper approval numbers remain high
April 15, 2020


RALEIGH – Approval for President Donald Trump’s job performance is constant from the March poll, which is the highest it has been since September 2018, according to the latest Civitas Poll, with total approval at 52%. The president’s approval has climbed among unaffiliated voters and men (+16 and +26, respectively).

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) also enjoys strong job approval, among likely voters in his party. Among Democrats, 86% express support for his job performance, in addition to 74% of likely unaffiliated voters, and nearly half of likely Republican voters (48%).

“This poll is fairly consistent with the national trend for President Trump and governors,” said Civitas President Donald Bryson. “The president is seeing an overall bump in approval ratings, and governors are enjoying leaps in approval ratings.”

Respondents were also asked, “If the presidential election were held today, which of the following candidates would you vote for: Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden:

49%     Donald Trump
42%     Joe Biden
9%       Undecided

The U.S. Senate race was also polled, revealing a small lead by sitting Senator Thom Tillis (R) over his top opponent, former state Senator Cal Cunningham (D):

38%      Thom Tillis
34%      Cal Cunningham
23%      Undecided
3%        Kevin Hayes
2%        Shannon Bray

“This early in the year, it appears that voters are trending towards a status quo election, with incumbents staying in place. However, reactions to the coronavirus outbreak and the economic fallout may change things, or strengthen positions as we get into the summer,” said Bryson.

Those surveyed were also asked whether they were concerned about contracting coronavirus. The survey found that voters were significantly more likely to be worried about experiencing coronavirus than they were when Civitas Poll asked the same question in mid-March, with 71% expressing they were worried about catching the virus, whereas 28% stated they were not worried. One percent said they were unsure or refused to answer.

Unsurprisingly, the concern over the coronavirus pushing the United States into an economic recession was also of significant concern. Among respondents, 84% stated they are concerned the United States is heading for a recession, while only 12% indicated they were not, with Democrats (91%) and unaffiliated (84%) voters more likely than Republicans (78%) to express this sentiment.

The administrations of President Trump and Gov. Roy Cooper both received high job approval ratings for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic:

Trump administration Cooper administration
Approve                    57% Approve                    84%
Disapprove               40% Disapprove               11%
Unsure/Refused        3% Unsure/Refused        5%

Methodology: The sample size for the survey is 500 likely general election 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 April 5 – 7, 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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