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Majority of voters believe elections were conducted fairly

Civic engagement up
November 19, 2020


RALEIGH ­– A majority of voters believe the elections were conducted fairly according to a post-election Civitas Poll released today. A statewide survey asked likely voters, “How confident are you that the 2020 election in North Carolina was held fairly?”

More than two-thirds said they are confident in the fairness of the election. Even so, three out of ten voters say they are not confident the election was conducted fairly. Those that voted for President Donald Trump, registered Republicans, and those that identified as “very conservative” are among those most likely to express concern about election fairness.

Voters that indicated they spent more time researching candidates were more likely to indicate they trusted the outcome of the election.

How confident are you that the 2020 election in North Carolina was held fairly?

Very confident 48%
Somewhat confident 20%
Not too confident 14%
Not at all confident 17%
Unsure/Refused 2%

“While we want the confidence level in our elections to be closer to 100 percent, it’s heartening that a wide majority of North Carolina voters believe that such a contentious election cycle was administered fairly,” said Civitas Institute President Donald Bryson.

“Looking into the demographics, there is a division on this topic between self-described Very and Somewhat Conservative voters- with Somewhat Conservatives saying they believe the election was fair.”

Those surveyed were also asked how much time they spent researching candidates compared to previous elections. While the majority (57%) stated they spent about the same amount of time researching candidates compared to previous elections, nearly one-third (31%) spent more time researching candidates and only 10% spent less time.

Additionally, unaffiliated voters, high education voters, those that identify as “somewhat conservative” and 18-34-year olds were most likely to report that they spent more time researching candidates down the ballot.

Thinking about state government, which do you prefer: a unified government in which the governor and majorities in both houses of the state legislature are from the same party; OR a divided government, in which the governor and the majority in at least one of the houses of the state legislature are from different parties?

Unified government 41%
Divided government 49%
Unsure/Refused 10%

It is likely that this increase in supplemental candidate research lent to a stronger preference for divided government among voters. Respondents that spent more time researching candidates were more than three times as likely to prefer a divided government than those that spent less time on candidate research.

Bryson continued, “Democracy is, by nature, messy. However, these results show the beauty of an election cycle. When nearly one-third of voters say they spent more time researching candidates and issues, it is a sign of stronger civic engagement.”

Voters were also asked how concerned they were about their food’s country and/or state of origin. Agriculture is North Carolina’s top industry and it is clear that voters have a strong preference for locally produced and grown food.

How important is it that your food comes from farms in North Carolina rather than outside of the state?

Important 76%
Total not important 23%

“At a time when it’s hard to find much that both sides agree on, we have a glaring one here. North Carolinians want more access to locally grown food and here at Civitas, we couldn’t agree more. It’s time for leaders in Raleigh to increase market access for local farmers and build our state back from within through policies that benefit both farmers and consumers,” said Michael Harden, Civitas’ director of agricultural studies and outreach.

Methodology: The sample size for the survey is 513 likely voters in North Carolina and the margin of error is +/-4.33% at a 95% confidence interval, meaning that if this survey were repeated, results would not vary from the population by more than 4.33 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 November 12-14, 2020 by Harper Polling, a Cygnal company. 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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