North Carolina Ted Budd

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Ted Budd, of North Carolina, addresses the crowd before former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on April 9, 2022, in Selma, N.C. 

(The Center Square) — A recent Meredith Poll of registered North Carolina voters is providing insight into candidate preferences for the 2022 primary, as well as a variety of policy issues, from abortion to Medicaid to legalizing marijuana.

The poll surveyed 1,225 registered voters in North Carolina between April 25-27, producing a margin of error of 2.7%.

Pollsters found a high degree of interest in the primaries, and specifically the Republican primary, despite a history of low turnouts in the Tar Heel State. Over 78% of respondents indicated interest in voting in the primary elections, with half indicating they would vote in the Republican primary, far higher than the 15% turnout in the last three midterm primaries.

Of those interested in the Republican primary, 32.7% plan to vote for Ted Budd in the U.S. Senate primary, followed by 25.7% who prefer former Governor Pat McCrory. Roughly a third remained undecided.

"The Trump endorsement of Budd is significant," Meredith Poll Director David McLennan said. "Public opinion polls of this race during the winter showed McCrory with a lead, but Trump’s presence in the race, as well as heavy spending by independent expenditure organizations, such as the Club for Growth, against McCrory seems to have reversed Budd’s fortunes."

In the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley leads the rest of the field by nearly 40 percentage points.

The Meredith Poll did not question voters about specific U.S. House of Representative races, but rather asked a generic ballot question about support for Democratic, Republican and other party candidates. Respondents favored Republican candidates in general by 5.9% over generic Democratic candidates.

"The generic ballot results point to a very difficult year for Democrats. In previous election cycles, generic Democratic candidates were generally favored by small margins over generic Republican candidates," McLennan said. "Since NC-13 appears to be in one swing House district in the state, it seems like the Republican nominee will head into the general election campaign with a slight advantage."

On abortion, three-quarters of Democrats polled want to keep the provisions of Roe v. Wade or expand access, while nearly 70% of Republicans want to restrict access or make abortions illegal.

The Meredith Poll found 70% of North Carolinians want the state to join 38 other states that have expanded Medicaid, including 90 percent of Democrats and a majority of Republicans. The survey results conflict with a Civitas poll of 600 likely Republican primary voters in early April that found 58% "somewhat oppose" or "strongly oppose" expansion.

Over 60% of those polled by Meredith favored legalizing medical marijuana use or both medical and recreation marijuana use, compared to only 13% that want to keep the plant illegal in North Carolina.

Other Meredith Poll results showed North Carolinians are split — 41.5% in support, 41.7% opposed — on legislation to prevent school teachers from discussing sexual identity with young children, while over 80% want state lawmakers to approve legislation to outlaw mobile phone use while driving.

More broadly, 55.6% of those polled approve of Gov. Roy Cooper’s job performance and 37.4% disapprove. For President Joe Biden, 40.7% of North Carolina voters polled approved of his job performance, compared to 54% who disapproved.

Only 27% of those polled — the lowest figure in the poll’s history — are satisfied with the direction of the country.

Over 41% were satisfied with how things are going in North Carolina.