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Political Notebook: Polls give insight into current job approval for presidential, gubernatorial races

A new High Point University poll found that registered voters in North Carolina currently give President Donald Trump a 44% approval rating with half saying they disapprove of the job he’s done as president.

Those same registered voters currently give Gov. Roy Cooper a 47% approval rating, with 41% saying they disapprove. Of that same survey sample, 13% didn’t offer an opinion either way.

Additionally, 72% of those voters said the U.S. is off on the wrong track. Only 22% approve of the direction the country is heading.

The voting sample includes 422 registered voters surveyed via landline or cell phones between Sept. 11 and Sept. 30. The margin of sampling error is +/- 6 percentage points.

FiveThirtyEight, which focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics, economics, and sports blogging, currently shows a 52% disapproval rating for Trump. FiveThirtyEight tracks the approval rating daily by using all the national polls it can find.

The latest presidential approval rating, also tracked by FiveThirtyEight, currently shows that former Vice President Joe Biden has a 7-point lead over Trump. But in North Carolina, Biden’s lead is much smaller at 47.7% compared to Trump’s 46.7%.

FiveThirtyEight states that it uses a formula that weights polls according to pollster ratings, which are based on pollsters’ historical accuracy in forecasting elections since 1998 and a pair of easily measurable methodological tests. Those tests include whether the pollster participates in professional initiatives that seek to increase disclosure and enforce the industry’s best practices, along with whether the pollster usually conducts live-caller surveys that call cell phones as well as landlines.

Some of the national polls used to track approval rating includs YouGov, Fox News and NBC News/The Wall Street Journal, which all have at least a “B” grade in credibility, according to FiveThirtyEight. Other polls are from Sienna College/The New York Times Upshot and ABC News/The Washington Post, which both have A+ ratings.

FiveThirtyEight’s pollster ratings are calculated by analyzing the historical accuracy of each firm’s polls along with its methodology. Accuracy scores are adjusted for the type of election polled, the poll’s sample size and the performance of other polls surveying the same race.

 

Huffman says ties to Rowan County make him committed to district he doesn’t live in

HARRISBURG — Despite not currently living in the district he’s running for, Scott Huffman said his lifelong tie to Rowan County shows his commitment to the district.

Huffman, a Democrat challenging Rep. Ted Budd to represent North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House, lives in Harrisburg, which straddles both Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties. He was born Spencer, however, and graduated from North Rowan High School.

The U.S. Constitution only requires candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives to live in the state they’re running to represent. They’re not required to live within the district in which they’re running for election. The Post has previously reported Huffman lives in Cabarrus County. But he clarified that only his campaign headquarters’ mailing address is within Cabarrus County.

“I live right across the county line,” he said. “We don’t go into the Charlotte area at all because when I come out the back of my house, we’re in Harrisburg.”

Harrisburg is where Huffman coaches football and shops for groceries, and it’s located in North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District.

Huffman said his mother lives in Salisbury, and that he led the wiring of North Rowan High School when the internet was first taking off.

“I grew up in Rowan County. I lived there all my life,” he said. “I played football in all the adjacent counties. My high school played against Davie County. We played against Davidson and Lexington in football. I know the area very well. All my family is from there. I’m committed to my community.”

Reporter Ben Stansell contributed to this report.

 

NC Medicaid surpasses 1 million telehealth visits since start of pandemic

RALEIGH — State health officials announced a milestone last week when saying more than 1.1 million telehealth visits have been conducted among state Medicaid patients since the start of the pandemic.

Additionally, NC Medicaid has processed claims for 350,000 telephonic visits. The state established nearly 400 telehealth flexibility policies for Medicaid patients in early March.

“Improved telehealth supports our vision of a sustainable, person-centered and innovative NC Medicaid,” said NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen. “We’ve seen during the pandemic how telehealth is allowing many North Carolinians to get the care they need, and we are building a foundation that will last long after the pandemic ends.”

Visit types that have seen the highest levels of telehealth and telephonic visits, according to state health officials, include behavioral health as well as speech, language and hearing services. From March through the mid-August, 54% of behavioral and social service visits were conducted via telehealth or telephone. During the same time period, 48% of speech, language and hearing service visits were delivered via telehealth.

“Telehealth policies are all about being responsive to the challenges people may be facing and prioritizing their health and well-being,” said NC Medicaid Director Dave Richard. “The COVID-19 pandemic is an extraordinary event that is taking a toll on people’s mental health. It’s encouraging to see higher levels of behavioral telehealth services — that means people are getting the care they need.”

Medicaid expansion has been a conversation among state legislators for some time now, particularly as Gov. Roy Cooper called for its expansion in the 2020-21 fiscal year budget. Ultimately, a Medicaid expansion didn’t make the final budget passed and signed into law.

Among local Democrats who’ve called for the expansion is Salisbury Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican, to represent House District 76.

 

Rep. Budd sponsors bill to rename PTIA Tower following Sen. Kay Hagan’s death

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill to rename the air traffic control tower at Piedmont Triad International Airport after the late Sen. Kay Hagan will now go to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Ted Budd, R-13, and includes bipartisan co-sponsorship. Among its supporters are Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, both Republicans from North Carolina; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, R-Minn, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., along with Reps. David Price, Mark Walker, David Rouzer, George Holding, Greg Murphy, Alma Adams and G.K. Butterfield, all of whom are from North Carolina.

“Sen. Hagan was a dedicated public servant to our state and it’s infrastructure, and I’m glad that PTI Airport’s ATC tower will soon bear her name,” Budd said in a statement. “This is a worthy tribute to a fine North Carolinian.”

Hagan is a Democrat from Shelby, who served in the U.S. Senate for North Carolina from 2009 to 2015. She died from encephalitis in October 2019. Before 2009, she served in the North Carolina Senate for a decade.

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