Top Concerns of North Carolina Voters

The environment in general, and more specifically clean water and clean air, rank among the top concerns of North Carolina voters. Over half the voters surveyed are extremely concerned about the quality of air and water, while nearly half of NC voters are extremely concerned about the environment in general. These issues are of approximately equal importance to voters as are education, health care, taxes, crime and drugs, and Medicare and Social Security.


  • Voters have a cynical view of the political process, with over half believing that campaign contributions influence how an elected official chooses to vote on environmental issues.

  • By an overwhelming margin, voters reject the notion that a choice must be made between a "clean environment and a strong economy," instead proposing that a clean environment and a strong economy can successfully co-exist.

  • One in two North Carolina voters maintain that the "the environment is a primary factor in deciding how to vote," while almost nine in ten voters say it is one of the key issues they consider.

    - When voters are asked specifically how important clean air, water, and open space are in deciding their voting choice, a commanding 56% called these issues a "primary factor" in determining their voting decision.

  • By a margin of more than 30%, voters would choose a candidate who supports strong environmental laws over those who would weaken government regulations in this area.

    - In addition, when voters are told that environmental groups support one candidate, and developers and corporations back a second candidate, their support for the environmental candidate increases.

  • In judging who should be responsible for paying for this increased enforcement of our environmental laws, voters overwhelmingly believe that individuals who break these laws and businesses that pollute should pay for cleanup efforts.

    - Over three quarters of voters strongly support the idea of environmental law-breakers' paying fines and businesses that pollute paying higher fees for dumping permits, with the money earmarked to cover the cost of environmental law enforcement.

  • North Carolinians are looking for candidates and current government officials to take stronger action to protect the environment.

    - Over three-quarters of voters believe that the government needs to more strictly enforce current laws protecting the environment or enact tougher laws. This support cuts across ethnicity, gender, party, and ideology. Yet, sentiment is much stronger when it comes to stricter enforcement of current laws (53%) than the enactment of new laws and regulations (24%).

  • Specific environmental concerns correspond to voters' focus on the environment as a quality of life issue.

    - Voters are more concerned with environmental issues that effect their everyday life and health, such as clean air and water (80% extremely or very concerned). Yet, voters also see a number of other environmental improvements that they believe could and should be achieved by elected officials.

The general message that is most salient to NC voters is preserving the environment for their children (71% very convincing), while the specific messages referring to the protection of clean water (two-thirds very convincing) and clean air (61% very convincing) are very appealing to these voters.

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