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Elon Poll: On North Korea, Russia & Media Bias

Slightly more than half of N.C. voters believe the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is a “serious matter” that could reveal corruption in President Donald Trump’s administration, while about 40 percent dismiss it as “just politics,” the most recent Elon University Poll has found. About half believe further investigation is likely to reveal criminal activity by the president, his family or senior leaders in his administration, the poll has found.
Trump’s approval rating in the state has slightly improved during the past month, with 37 percent now approving of how he is handling the job of president, compared to 34 percent in the Elon Poll results released Oct. 3. Close to 50 percent of N.C. voters approve of how Gov. Roy Cooper is handling his job, while less than a third approve of how U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis are handling theirs.
“Though President Trump remains underwater in approval and low by any historical standard, we measured a slight increase in approval among North Carolina voters,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon University Poll and assistant professor of political science. “This increase over the last month is largely due to a small group of Republicans who previously disapproved or were unsure.”
Asked whether their state’s U.S. senators should be more or less supportive of the president, 46 percent said Republicans Richard Burr and Thom Tillis should be less supportive, compared to 38.5 percent who said they should back the president more. Turning to the media, more than half — 52 percent — of N.C. voters said coverage is biased against President Trump, compared to 44 percent who said they see no media bias against the president.
Asked about the tensions between the United States and North Korea, a quarter of N.C. voters said those tensions could lead either side to use nuclear weapons within the next year, while 62 percent said that is unlikely.
The live-caller, dual-frame (landline and cell phone) survey of 771 registered voters in North Carolina was conducted Nov. 6-9, 2017. Survey results in this news release have a margin of error +/-3.5 percent.
Russia Investigation
Opinions about the investigation by former FBI chief Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election are split, depending upon what N.C. voters think about the job President Trump is doing. Among those who approve of Trump’s performance as president, 85 percent said the investigation won’t reveal criminal activity by Trump, his family or his senior leaders. Similarly, 77 percent of Trump supporters said they believe the investigation is “just politics.”
On the flip side, those who disapprove of the job President Trump is doing were much more likely to think the investigation will uncover additional criminal activity (78 percent) and were more likely to call the investigation a “serious matter” (81 percent).
Independents are more evenly divided on the questions than those affiliated with the two parties, with 51 percent saying the investigation is a “serious matter,” compared to 38 percent who say it’s “just politics.” More independents (48 percent) believe additional criminal activity will be found than those who don’t (40 percent).
Women voters, black voters and those from urban areas were more likely to say the investigation is a “serious matter.” Older voters were more likely to say that politics was driving the Russia Investigation, the poll found.
“North Carolina voters live in almost different worlds when it comes to perceptions of the Russia investigation,” Husser said. “Democrats overwhelmingly say it is a serious matter while Republicans consistently think it is just politics. The investigation is also motivated Trump supporters and opponents to voter in the upcoming midterm elections, but, at least right now, more Democrats are being motivated than Republicans.”
Approval ratings, media bias
Both of North Carolina’s U.S. senators saw less than a third of the state’s voters signing off on the job they are doing in Washington, with about the same size segment saying they don’t know how the two Republican senators are doing in their roles. For Burr, 31 percent approve of the job he’s doing, while 40.5 percent don’t approve, and 27 percent don’t know. For Tillis, 28 percent approve of how he’s handling his job, while 41 percent don’t approve and 30 percent don’t know.
Looking at shifts in opinions since an April Elon Poll, Tillis’s approval rating is essentially unchanged, moving from 29 percent to 28 percent in this most recent poll. Burr’s change has been more dramatic, with 39 percent approving of his handling of the job in April and 31 percent now expressing approval.
Both U.S. senators enjoyed more support among whites, males, older voters and rural voters.
Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, enjoys a higher approval rating, with 49 percent of voters approving of how he’s handling the job and 30 percent disapproving and 20 percent saying they don’t know. Broken out by what voters think about President Trump, Cooper, a Democrat, is enjoying some support among those who also support the president. Among those who approve of the job President Trump is doing, 26 percent also approve of Cooper’s job performance.
Cooper’s approval rating is essentially unchanged since April, moving from 48 percent then to 49 percent now.
Turning to media bias, the Elon Poll has found that even some Trump detractors believe that the president may not be getting a fair shake from the media. Among those who disapprove of the job President Trump is doing, 22 percent say that the media is biased against him. Among those who approve of Trump’s job performance, 92 percent said they detect anti-Trump bias in the media.
Men are more likely to say the media is biased against Trump than women (65 percent vs. 40 percent), and whites are more likely to detect media bias against the president than blacks (62 percent vs. 23 percent). 
North Korea
Tensions between North Korea and the United States remain high, and there are some who believe that those tensions might lead to the use of nuclear weapons by either side during the next year. Overall, about one in four think nuclear weapons could be used by either country within the next 12 months.
Broken down by party affiliation, Democrats are much more likely to believe nuclear weapons could be used in the next year, with 41 percent holding that belief compared to 11 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of independents.
“Almost one-quarter of North Carolinians expect the use of nuclear weapons within the next year,” Husser said. “Whether one sees that level of worry as high is largely subjective, but we know Democrats are much more likely to be on edge right now about the worst-case scenario with North Korea.”
Looking at demographics, Baby Boomers are the most likely to think that nuclear weapons could be used (27 percent), women are more likely than men, and blacks are more likely than whites to believe that.
Those who disapprove of the job that President Trump are more likely to believe nuclear weapons could be used (31 percent) than those who approve of the job the president is doing (14 percent).