A new Elon University poll shows 49 percent of North Carolinians support the so-called “bathroom provision” of House Bill 2. The controversial measure, which requires transgender people to use the restroom corresponding with their biological sex, has grabbed headlines around the country.
But HB2 contains much more than restroom guidelines. It also enacted limits on local control over discrimination regulations, minimum wage requirements, and more. According to the poll, North Carolinians have varied sentiments about specific portions of the law, depending on which part they're asked about.
For example, nearly half of residents believe the state should be allowed to ban cities from passing ordinances that allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choosing. But a majority think the state should stay out of local minimum wage raises.
So, what accounts for the complicated opinions have around HB2? WFDD's Sean Bueter spoke with Elon Poll director Kenneth Fernandez to get some insights into the data.
On how complex the politics of social issues can be:
"People are not 100 percent consistent in their belief systems, ideology, or policy preferences. Because part of HB2 also prevents cities from adjusting their minimum wage, and really, most people do not support the state intervening in local minimum wage laws.
In addition, we asked the question: “Do you think that states often, sort of, interfere in laws or regulations that are best left to municipal governments?” And, I think over 60 percent said “Yes, the state does interfere.” And so I think it really depends on the questions. Many of us might believe in local autonomy, but when a city does something we don't agree with, we might often want state or federal intervention."
On how HB2 and similar laws around the country could be related to same-sex marriage:
“This has some code words like ‘transgender' that sort of piques a respondent's interest on changing social norms that make people of more traditional values a little bit more uncomfortable…
…I do think this is a reaction to changing times, and people are like: ‘All right, I just sort of got my mind around gay marriage. Now you're talking about transgender issues and bathrooms, and gay marriage may not have affected me personally…but bathrooms do.' And so I think you're getting a little bit of a backlash here that's related to gay marriage.”
On whether the divide is growing between urban and rural residents when it comes to social and economic issues:
“Maybe there is a growing divide between urban versus rural. And even in regards to not just social policy, but economic policies, in that cities are being seen as the economic, driving engine of states. And so what do we do? Do we allow cities to keep [those] economic gains, or do we spread that out to communities where the economy may be declining?
And so, I think there's an economic division between urban versus rural. And there's definitely ideological and social differences between these two areas.”
You can read more about the latest Elon University poll and analysis on the university's website.