What’s the value of a popularity contest?
Two years ago, North Carolina ranked in the Top 10 states in the country in approval ratings. Some 40 percent of the people surveyed by Public Policy Polling said they had a favorable view of the state. Only 11 percent said they had an unfavorable view. Compared to other states, North Carolina ranked ninth in the country in approval ratings at that time.
Fast-forward two years, and a very different picture emerges. In a new poll by the same firm, 30 percent of the respondents said they have a favorable view of the state, but 23 percent said they now have an unfavorable view. That puts North Carolina 40th in the country among states’ approval ratings.
Public Policy Polling, a national polling company based in Raleigh, is considered by some critics to have a bias toward Democratic politics. But The Wall Street Journal named it one of the two most accurate polling companies in the country, based on its state-by-state projections in the 2008 presidential primaries. And, whether the company leans Democratic or not, Republicans controlled the N.C. General Assembly two years ago, when North Carolina received its high favorability rating.
In the 2011 poll, Hawaii, Colorado, Tennessee, South Dakota and Virginia held the Top 5 spaces in favorability terms. The bottom five were Utah, Mississippi, New Jersey, Illinois and California.
Politics aside, it’s hard to see how falling from No. 9 in the poll to No. 40 helps North Carolina in any way, particularly when it comes to recruiting new businesses and industries. Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican leaders have said numerous times one of their major motives for passing tax reform and reducing regulations is to make the state more attractive to potential businesses.
That’s fine. But other factors go into the decision-making process for companies considering relocation. When a state tumbles so far so quickly, it’s bound to raise some eyebrows.
It probably should get some attention from our leaders, also.