Under the Dome

Poll: Perdue is nation’s most unpopular governor, but voters dislike the legislature, too

In addition to governor’s 59 percent disapproval rating, half surveyed also frown on the job the legislature is doing



Gov. Bev Perdue during a February 2011 interview at The News & Observer.

SHAWN ROCCO — srocco@newsobserver.com

North Carolina’s Gov. Bev Perdue is the most unpopular governor in the country, according to a new poll.

Perdue’s disapproval rating has hit an all-time high of 59 percent, according to a new survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm based in Raleigh. Her approval rating is 30 percent, with 11 percent not sure.

That makes her the most unpopular governor in the country of the 40 governors that PPP has polled, the firm said. That may also explain why the Republicans are doing their best to tie Democratic candidate Walter Dalton to Perdue.

But before Republicans get feeling too smug, it should be noted that as unpopular as Perdue is, the Republican legislature is not far behind.

The survey found that 50 percent disapprove of the job the legislature is doing, while 23 percent approve, and 27 percent have no opinion. Voters have an equally unfavorable view of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

Asked if the election were held today who they would vote for, 45 percent said they would vote Republican, 41 percent said they would vote Democrat, and 14 percent said they were uncertain.

The Spin: “Perdue has an opportunity right now to help improve her standing with the Democratic base by vetoing the fracking bill,” said pollster Tom Jensen. “A recent PPP poll conducted for a private client found that North Carolina Democrats oppose fracking by an almost 2-to-1 margin.”

The survey of 810 North Carolina voters was conducted June 7-10 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.

Eugenics compensation

Senate Republicans say they will not vote on a plan to compensate eugenics victims because Senate Democrats included the payment plan in a failed budget amendment last week.

Here’s a statement from Senate leader Phil Berger’s spokesman, Brandon Greife:

“The morally reprehensible action taken several decades ago by the North Carolina eugenics program is a tragic episode in our state’s history that must never be repeated. It is unfortunate Democrats decided to politicize the issue of providing compensation by including it in a controversial amendment filled with tax hikes and spending increases they knew Republicans could not support. Under a longstanding rule (Rule 53) created during the Democrats’ leadership, the amendment’s failure now prohibits the Senate from considering compensation for eugenics victims in any other measure for the rest of this session.”

Democrats offered a budget amendment to limit the $3,500 tax break going to some of the state’s wealthiest residents. They proposed to use most of the $141 million coming back to the state treasury for schools, and have $11 million go toward a plan to compensate eugenics victims.

The House included the move in its version of the budget, the Senate did not. House Speaker Thom Tillis has made a concentrated effort to compensate eugenics victims.

The Senate rule says issues included in failed amendments cannot be considered again. Senate Democrats never got a vote on amendment because of a Republican blocking move. But that doesn’t matter under the rules.

Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham Democrat, said he remains hopeful eugenics compensation will be approved this year. The Senate majority has the ability to waive any rule it wants, he said, and eugenics compensation can still be included in a budget compromise.

North Carolina ran one of the most robust eugenics programs in the nation. More than 7,600 people were sterilized under the authority of a state board between 1933 and 1974. About 1,500 to 2,000 are thought to still be alive.

The House budget would give verified victims $50,000 each.

Teachers endorse Dalton

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton won the endorsement last week of the N.C. Association of Educators, the major teachers lobby in the state.

In accepting the endorsement at NCAE headquarters, Dalton, the lieutenant governor, said education has been “part of North Carolina’s DNA” under governors such as Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt.

“We have seen undue reductions to education by this leadership that we have today in the Legislature while our student population increases,” Dalton said in front of about 30 teachers. “Now the Senate budget proposes even more cuts. That is truly a formula for disaster.”

“We need to invest in education,” Dalton said, “not abandon public education.”

Dalton said Republican presidential presumptive nominee Mitt Romney has called for a reduction of teachers. He said his opponent, Pat McCrory, has “implicitly endorsed the reductions we have seen.”

Dalton said public education was being improved. He said for the last four years, North Carolina’s dropout rate has been reduced and its graduation rate has increased and it now stands as the best it has been in history.

He said North Carolina had made more progress in SAT college board scores than any other state that relies on the SAT in the last 10 years. He said North Carolina is above the national average on ACT college board scores.

Sheri Strickland, the NCAE president, said the 60,000-member organization would offer grassroots support to Dalton.

Brian Lewis, the lobbyist for the Democratic-leaning group, said he didn’t know if the NCAE’s parent organization, the National Education Association, would pump the amount it did in the race as in 2008 for Gov. Bev Perdue when it spent about $2 million in independent expenditures.

Gun-rights demands bill

The state’s main gun-rights group is stepping up the pressure on Berger, demanding he bring a long-pending bill to a floor vote.

Grass Roots N.C. announced late last week it had begun a radio campaign pushing for a vote on HB111, which would allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons to bring their firearms into restaurants that serve alcohol.

The bill has languished for more than a year, but showed signs of life earlier this month when a Senate committee gave it a thumbs-up vote.

But instead of heading to the floor, the bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee, even though there is no apparent financial impact to the bill.

Its sponsor, Rep. Mark Hilton, a Republican from Catawba County, said he feared the referral was the kiss of death to the bill, and he blamed Berger.

But Berger responded that he supports the bill. He said he wants to see how similar laws have fared in other states, and suggested it might not get a floor vote this session.

The Grass Roots radio spot highlights three recent restaurant homicides in North Carolina and several armed robberies.

Meanwhile, opponents are marshalling their own efforts, challenging Hilton’s claim that abuses by concealed-carry permit-holders are virtually nonexistent.

Staff writers Rob Christensen, Lynn Bonner and Craig Jarvis

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