Gov. Cooper’s Support Is Surging During The Pandemic — Even With Trump Voters

Gov. Roy Cooper, in a 2018 AP file photo. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

By Billy Ball

April 29, 2020

New poll shows 67% of North Carolinians, and even 46% of Trump voters, supporting the Democratic governor.

North Carolinians might be worried about the coronavirus pandemic, but they are by and large approving of Gov. Roy Cooper’s handling of the crisis, a new poll shows.

Cooper’s COVID-19 leadership enjoys solid support even among Republicans, with 46% of GOP and Trump voters approving of the Democratic governor, according to the figures from national pollsters Garin-Hart-Yang.

“This is something we’re living day to day and who knows what next week and next month and the fall will bring,” Fred Yang, a partner in the firm, told reporters Wednesday. “But right now, there’s a lot of optimism in North Carolina.”

Yang said 54% of North Carolinians polled believe the state is headed in the “right direction,” the highest marks in a Garin-Hart-Yang poll in the state in at least five years.

And while COVID-19 “dominates” the dialogue, according to the polls, Cooper’s support is significantly greater than President Donald Trump. The polling firm said 67% approved of Cooper’s job performance. Trump’s numbers were more mixed, with 49% approving and 48% disapproving.

When asked who they trust to manage COVID-19, the firm reported 55% picked Cooper and state government, compared to 34% who selected Trump and the federal government.

Those numbers are similar to a poll released last week by Public Policy Polling.  

The firm polled 800 likely NC voters between April 13 to 18 on behalf of the progressive nonprofit Real Facts NC. The poll has a 3.5% margin of error. 

Yang emphasized that these are volatile times and to expect fluctuations. “But Roy Cooper has such credibility, he’s going to be able to sustain this longer than other people,” Yang said.

He added that the numbers are good news for Cooper in his run for re-election this fall. Cooper is facing Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Charlotte-area Republican, in the race. 

“Anytime a candidate has approval among the other party, that is very telling in terms of that person’s widespread appeal,” Yang said.

Cooper’s strong support is significant given pressure from some conservatives and activists demanding that the state’s social distancing orders be lifted immediately, even with COVID-19 cases still on the rise. 

Protesters demonstrated in front of the NC General Assembly as lawmakers reconvened Tuesday, and at least one state legislator donned colonial garb. Activists insist that the state’s stay-at-home orders violate Constitutional rights.

But the new polling suggests that, at least between April 13 and April 18, that was a fringe position. Just 25% of those polled said they want to lift COVID protection measures immediately, compared to 70% who agree with those measures. 

Cooper extended his social distancing orders until at least May 8, while state health officials review several key trends in the coronavirus figures. The governor’s administration has said they plan a phased approach to lowering restrictions. 

The governor’s robust support does not necessarily parlay, however, into strong backing for Democrats in the NC General Assembly. When asked to choose between Democrats and Republicans in the legislature, Democrats held a modest 39% to 35% advantage. 

“The vast majority of North Carolinians support the governor’s decisive actions and are more interested in protecting their loved ones, neighbors, and communities than a political agenda that puts corporate profits ahead of people’s lives,” Daniel Gilligan, executive director of Real Facts NC, said in a statement.

For a full rundown of the polling, click here for Garin-Hart-Yang’s memo. 


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.

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