• 79°

Gary Pearce: COVID-19 boosts Cooper’s re-election campaign

By Gary Pearce

Like many governors, Roy Cooper gets good poll ratings for handling the COVID-19 crisis. Unlike most other Governors, Cooper is running for re-election this year.

Polls on opposite ideological poles – Public Policy Polling on the left and Civitas on the right – say that North Carolinians strongly approve of Cooper’s performance. His numbers are much better than President Donald Trump’s.

The two polls agree that Cooper has opened up a big lead against Lt. Gov. Dan Forest in the Governor’s race: 50-36 in Public Policy Polling and 50-33 in Civitas.

Both polls also found little public support for the “ReopenNC” protests.

Public Policy Polling said last week that North Carolinians approve of Cooper’s handling of the crisis by a 62-22 margin. In contrast, only 46% approve of Trump’s performance, and 49% disapprove.

Public Policy Polling reported that governors in three other swing states also got good approve/disapprove ratings: 57-37 in Michigan, 59-29 in Pennsylvania and 53-37 in Wisconsin.

The Civitas poll, taken earlier in April, was better for Trump, but even better for Cooper. North Carolinians approved of Trump’s handling of the crisis by 57-40, but they approved of Cooper’s performance by 84-11.

On the reopening issue, Public Policy Polling said: “Only 19% of voters think social distancing measures should be relaxed, with 54% believing that the current policies are correct and 26% supporting more aggressive measures than the ones already in place.”

A national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 58% of Americans are more concerned about a premature reopening than about harm to the economy; 32% are more worried about the economy.

Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who helped conduct the poll, called the results a “powerful signal” that the country is not ready to reopen now.

Another poll, by Gallup, found that only 20% of Americans would immediately return to normal activity if restrictions were lifted; 71% would wait and see what happens.

As always, polls can change. Unlike a hurricane or ice storm, this crisis will last weeks and months. The virus could go away, or flare up again. The economy could recover quickly, or sink deeper.

For now, it looks like Governor Cooper’s response has increased his reelection prospects.

Crises often help governors politically. Governors can act, and they can command the cameras. Political news gets blocked out. People want politicians to work together on the problem, not fight with each other.

North Carolina has seen this movie before.

The first time was way back in 1955. Luther Hodges, elected lieutenant governor in 1952, had become governor when William B. Umstead died. Hodges was getting ready to run for a full term on his own when three hurricanes hit the state. Hodges donned rain gear and headed for the coast to survey damage. Hugh Morton (of Grandfather Mountain fame) took photos and shipped them to newspapers across the state. Hodges won election easily.

In 1996, Governor Jim Hunt was running for his fourth term against then-state Rep. Robin Hayes. In early September, Hurricane Fran slammed the state. Suddenly, nobody cared about the campaign. Governor Hunt, always a take-charge executive, dominated the news for weeks. By October, the race was over.

In 2016, former Gov. Pat McCrory was trailing Cooper in the governor’s race. Then, Hurricane Matthew hit in October. Suddenly, McCrory was on TV and in command. He got a boost in polls, and he nearly beat Cooper.

McCrory’s admonition then is apt now: “Don’t put on your stupid hat.”

Gary Pearce is a former political consultant and adviser to Governor Jim Hunt. He blogs at NewDayforNC.com.



Summer baseball: Rowan County Seniors NC3 schedule


Greg Edds: Recommit to respect, common decency in Rowan County


Janitor shot at Bendix Drive hotel


New zip code in county sees COVID-19 cases with more than 300 new tests reported


‘I can’t breathe’: More than 100 protesters participate in downtown ‘lie-in’


Eight shootings in three days: Kannapolis Police ask for public’s help


Blotter: June 6


Michael Jordan giving $100 million for racial equality, justice


Demonstrators vow to sustain momentum until change happens


Gov. Cooper vetoes bill to let N.C. bars serve patrons again


Windows send a message: Fish Bowl writes names of police brutality victims on storefront


Missing Salisbury teen found in Atlanta with registered sex offender


Man charged with damaging Salisbury Post window arrested, charged


‘Message of unity’: Protesters dress in ‘Sunday best’ to honor George Floyd


Wallace Cancer Institute gets new linear accelerator


Charles Jeter: Still a Republican, no longer believe in president

China Grove

Blotter: China Grove man arrested on breaking and entering, felony drug charges


Cal Thomas: Unusual conversation between radio hosts


China Grove cancels Farmers Day because of COVID-19


Editorial: Continue to follow health guidelines on coronavirus


Sports briefs: Former West basketball player killed in accident


One additional new COVID-19 case in veterans home; average age of positive cases drops


Legislators aim to reopen gyms over governor’s order


SPD: Officers weren’t ordered to protect ‘Fame’