FILE - North Carolina state flag

The North Carolina state flag flies.

(The Center Square) – Jobs and the economy collectively is the most important public policy issue for North Carolinians, said respondents to a recent Civitas/John Locke Foundation survey.

Cygnal conducted the survey of 600 likely 2022 general election voters from various parts of the state. The survey results showed 34% of respondents consider jobs and the economy their top policy priority.

Respondents were mostly women (54%), and more than 60% of respondents were age 50 and older (62.5%). About 68% of them were white, and 44.8% live in suburban neighborhoods. About 34% were registered as Republicans, 37% were registered as Democrats and 26% were unaffiliated. However, 47% identified themselves as conservatives.

The John Locke Foundation asked the respondents to identify which public policy issues are the most important to them. After jobs and the economy, about 31% of respondents said election integrity, followed by health care with 30%.

Priorities differed across party lines. Most Republicans were concerned about election integrity, taxes and spending. Democrats and unaffiliated respondents said they primarily are concerned about health care and jobs and the economy.

Andy Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University, said Republicans' focus on election integrity might be influenced by former President Donald Trump's election fraud crusade after losing to President Joe Biden in the presidential election. Taylor also said economic stability is the most common concern among Americans.

"It is interesting that there is no kind of laser-like focus that we generally see on the economy," Taylor said Thursday during a virtual discussion about the data.

John Locke Foundation Senior Political Analyst Mitch Kokai said economic issues have the most significant effect on people's lives and "it's no surprise that voters continue to place such great emphasis on jobs and the economy."

"What's most interesting about this latest poll is the fact that election integrity jumped up the list of issues to rank just behind jobs and the economy," Kokai said. "This suggests that people are giving almost as much weight to the way we select our government leaders as they do to pocketbook issues."

Most of the North Carolinians surveyed said they favored a tax spending limit in the state. About 59% of the respondents said they would support a state constitutional amendment that would require voter approval for taxes, expenditure caps and regular deposits into the state's reserves.

The John Locke Foundation asked the respondents whether they want to restrict increases in spending to inflation plus population growth, require yearly deposits into the reserves and voter approval for tax increases and tax surplus refunds. Only 17% of respondents said they would not support the constitutional amendment, and 10% said they would neither support nor oppose the measure.

"It's encouraging that North Carolina voters feel so strongly about placing limits on state government's ability to increase taxes and spending," Kokai said. "Regardless of where you stand on the proper amount of government spending, you ought to like the idea of government using the dollars it takes from us as efficiently and frugally as possible."

The survey was conducted March 11-14 and has a margin of error of 4%. The John Locke Foundation is a conservative think tank.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for four years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.