Public Policy Polling released their 2017 North Carolina Culture Poll on Tuesday, which surveyed residents across the state on many non-political issues.
Carrboro’s low approval rating certainly came as a surprise to the town clerk, Catherine Dorando.
Dorando said Carrboro contracted a private research company in 2016 to conduct a separate survey of 405 residents to gather information for the first Carrboro Biennial Citizen Survey Report. This report, which is unrelated to the PPP survey, found that citizens of Carrboro rate their overall satisfaction with the town as a 7.95 out of 9.
“While I’m happy to see that we were included in (the PPP) poll, you really can’t compare these surveys at all,” Dorando said.
The town of Carrboro’s survey more focused on Carrboro and its residents, gauging their satisfaction with the town and the services it provides to help town management plan for this year’s budget.
Carrboro Board of Aldermen member Bethany Chaney agreed with Dorando. She said PPP’s results are less indicative of the town’s performance, and are rather the result of fewer people knowing about the small town. She said the poll asked for the opinion of all North Carolinians, not just those who live in Carrboro.
“And if you look at the breakdown, more than 60 percent of people who were asked said they didn’t know enough about the town of Carrboro to weigh in at all,” Chaney said.
Justin Mayhew, a spokesperson for PPP, also agreed that this is likely the cause for the low rating.
“Technically, Carrboro has a positive approval rating, because while only 28 percent of those polled gave a positive response, only 11 percent responded negatively,” Mayhew said. “That means the majority, 61 percent, are not sure.”
Mayhew was not surprised that most people living in Carrboro like the town.
“If you cross tabs of participants by area code, those in the 919 area are much more favorable,” he said.
This unfamiliarity is why Dorando is unbothered by these numbers.
“We’re not comparing our town to others because, in reality, you just can’t,” she said.
Carrboro is one of the smaller towns included in the PPP survey, which also included Charlotte and Raleigh.
Mayhew said they chose the cities and towns in their survey for a variety of reasons. He said their interest in Carrboro was sparked because of the town’s reputation of being hyper-liberal.
“It’s nice to see if politics influence people’s opinions, especially in a state as politically polarized as North Carolina,” he said.
The political factors in the statewide poll was not lost on Chaney or Dorando.
“What I thought was interesting was the breakdown of the poll participants,” Chaney said. “People in this survey who say they voted for Donald Trump actually tended to like Carrboro the least.”
Chaney said she’s unshaken by the results of the PPP poll. For now, she said the poll is nothing to be concerned about. With town staples like Cat’s Cradle and the ArtsCenter, she said there are plenty of things in Carrboro that will draw in visitors.
CLARIFICATION: The headline has been updated to make clear the results of the poll. 61 percent of respondents say they are not sure what they think about Carrboro. A previous version of this story was unclear about the results of the data. Donald Trump's approval rating was not calculated as part of this poll. The story has been updated to reflect this.