More than half of North Carolina voters say the federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election is a “serious matter,” poll results released Tuesday show.
Nearly 40 percent dismiss it as politically motivated.
The Elon University Poll found a wide partisan divide on the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller, and of its possible consequences.
Those who approve of President Donald Trump’s job performance were likely (77 percent) to view the investigations as “just politics,” and 85 percent predicted it won’t uncover criminal conduct by Trump, his family or senior leaders. Voters who disapprove of Trump were more likely (81 percent) to call the probe serious and predict (78 percent) that it would find criminal activity.
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Women, black voters and city dwellers were most likely to express concern, while older voters were more likely to attribute the investigation to politics.
“North Carolina voters live in almost different worlds when it comes to perceptions of the Russia investigation,” Jason Husser, the poll’s director and an assistant political science professor, said in a statement. “Democrats overwhelmingly say it is a serious matter while Republicans consistently think it is just politics. The investigation also motivated Trump supporters and opponents to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, but, at least right now, more Democrats are being motivated than Republicans.”
While on a 12-day tour of Asian countries, Trump first said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin “means it” when he denied that Russia was involved in trying to disrupt U.S. elections. On Sunday, Trump said, “I believe that (Putin) feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether I believe it, I’m with our agencies. As currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.”
Trump’s approval rating in North Carolina, meanwhile, ticked up in the past month to 37 percent from the 34 percent approval in Oct. 3 poll results. Elon’s telephone poll of 771 registered voters was conducted Nov. 6-9 and has a 3.5 percent margin of error.
Husser attributed Trump’s improvement to changing views by the small group of Republicans who previously disapproved or were unsure of him.
Other key findings of the poll:
▪ The news media’s coverage of Trump is also viewed poorly by the president’s supporters. Of those who think Trump is performing well, 92 percent said they detect media bias against the president. Only 22 percent of Trump detractors say that’s so.
▪ Gov. Roy Cooper got a 49 percent approval rating, including one in four of voters who also think Trump is doing a good job. But the state’s two U.S. senators found relatively little support, with 31 percent approving of Sen. Richard Burr and 28 percent saying the same of Sen. Thom Tillis.
▪ About one in four voters think tensions between the U.S. and North Korea could lead to the use of nuclear weapons by either side during the next 12 months. Democrats (41 percent) were most likely to hold that belief, compared to 11 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of independents.