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Are North Carolinians’ perceptions on environmental quality accurate?

Complete May Civitas Poll Results included
May 14, 2019


RALEIGH, NC – The latest Civitas Poll finds that a majority of likely voters surveyed believe environmental quality in our state and across the nation is worse today than it was ten years ago.

When asked, “Do you believe the natural environment in North Carolina is more or less clean than it was ten years ago,” 44 percent stated that they believed it was less clean.

Respondents were then asked their opinion on whether the natural environment across the United States is cleaner than it was ten years ago. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they believed it was less clean.

Thankfully, perception is not reality, and the environment across the state and the nation continues to improve. For example, air quality has seen a steady improvement since 1990, according to a 2018 Environmental Protection Agency report. “During this same period, the U.S. economy continued to grow, Americans drove more miles and population and energy use increased,” the study found.

“Interestingly, voters seem to feel better about the state of the environment in North Carolina than they do for the nation,” said Civitas Institute President Donald Bryson. “Unfortunately, the environment only makes the news when there is bad news, and so the perception, particularly in North Carolina’s coastal areas, is that the environment is worse off.”

One result of environmental alarmism has been that economically unsound policies, such as the Green New Deal, have been promoted as potential solutions. When those surveyed were asked about the Green New Deal, the overall sentiment was a mixed bag. Respondents were asked, “From what you know about it, do you favor or oppose the Green New Deal?” the most common response was “unsure or refused” (39 percent). Opposition sat at 36 percent, while approval was 25 percent.

Bryson continued, “The Green New Deal question shows there is a soft partisan divide on the issue. The opposition is strong among Republicans, voters who choose a Republican on the generic ballot for Congress, and Conservatives. Meanwhile, support is relatively weak among Democrats, voters who want a Democrat on the generic Congressional ballot, and liberals.”

This poll also asked about opinions on President Donald Trump and Gov. Roy Cooper’s job approval. President Trump’s approval rating was split 47/47, which is a two-point improvement from the March poll. However, Gov. Cooper’s approval rating took a small two-point dip, now sitting at 56 percent, down from 58 percent in March. Both Trump and Cooper’s variances are within the margin of error.

North Carolinians were also asked their opinion on a variety of other issues, such as their feelings on the amount of media attention given to the Mueller investigation to their opinion on the state Republican and Democratic parties.

Poll Highlights

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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