Poll: Signs of support for education, school choice

(The Center Square) – Support for North Carolina’s opportunity scholarship program is reflected in a 500% increase in applications, and by 3 in 5 respondents to a poll taken Sunday and Monday.

Support in races for president and governor remain close, inflation is the top issue and 64% said America is on the “wrong track” in the Carolina Journal Poll released Thursday. There were 600 registered voters responding, and the overall credibility interval is +/- 3.99%.

In last year’s long session at the Legislature, North Carolina became the 10th state in the country to create universal school choice for its more than 1.5 million K-12 students, and the first to do so without benefit of a Republican trifecta in state government. The state’s $60.7 billion two-year spending plan included $17.3 billion in this fiscal year (up 6.1%) and $17.9 billion in 2024-25 (up 9.5%).

Opportunity scholarships are available for all K-12 students to attend the school of their choice, including private schools. The budget increases accountability through required student testing for schools with opportunity scholarship students.

Not all who have applied will be granted scholarships; criteria sort out applicants. When the poll asked if funding should be increased, 41.1% said yes and 15.7% said keep the same level. There were 19.7% saying they did not support the program, and 23.1% unsure.

The findings come the same week President Joe Biden gave details of a higher education plan in which 74,160 North Carolina student borrowers would be relieved – in other words, taxpayers would pick up – more than $3.6 billion in loans. This despite last year, the U.S. Supreme Court halted Biden’s attempt through the HEROES Act to cancel $400 billion in student debt.

Biden has announced two other plans since that defeat at the nation’s highest court.

The nation’s 46th president made headway month over month in the publication’s polling. Down 5.2 points in March, the 81-year-old Democrat in this poll trailed 77-year-old Republican former President Donald Trump 43.4%-39%.

The governor’s race tightened, too. Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson leads Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein 39.9%-37.9%. Robinson was up 5 points a month ago.

Asked if spending more on groceries, 80.7% of respondents said yes. Of those, 93% said the country was headed in the wrong direction.

Asked about America’s aim, 64.3% said it is on the “wrong track” and 27.2% said it is on the “right track.” Biden’s approval rating is 34.6%, and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s is 44.2%.

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