Fall 2016 Articles, Social Issues

If It Wasn’t Already Obvious, HB2 Isn’t Well-Liked Among NC State Students

hb2 story graphic

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2, or HB2, into legislation nearly seven months ago. Since the press has largely focused on the first two pages of the bill, most people are familiar with HB2 by its restriction of bathroom use to the gender listed on one’s birth certificate. However, the other three pages of the bill include legislation on the authority between state and local governments, as well as eliminating workers’ ability to sue over discrimination in a state court.

One component of the bill has been a specific point of contention both locally and nationally: the decision to bar transgender individuals from using the restroom of their gender identity. Opposition includes organized protests throughout the state, the announcement by the Obama administration that they believe HB2 violates federal law, and the decision by the National Basketball Association to pull the All-Star game out of Charlotte. According to the Center for American Progress, North Carolina could lose an estimated $567.5 million through 2018 due to boycotts over HB2. Despite this, the governor’s office has not backed down from defending the bill.

A new survey by Pack Poll finds that 64% of NC State undergraduates oppose HB2, 23% of students approve of the bill, and 13% have no opinion on the matter. Presuming that HB2 opinions are linked with political ideology, these findings are to be expected as 43% of NC State students identified themselves as liberal, 28% as conservative, and 29% neither liberal nor conservative.

opinion of hb2

Each respondent was randomly given one of three framed questions on HB2. A third of the sample was asked their opinion of HB2 when given the information that it has hurt the state economically, a third was asked and given the information that many people say it is necessary to protect women and children, and a third was simply asked their opinion without any further information. Typically, these frames can be used to show what factors or arguments influence the public’s opinion on a topic, as respondents react more or less favorably to items they do or do not find persuasive. However, there was no significant difference between the three versions of the question, suggesting that students have either well-informed opinions or uninformed opinions that aren’t swayed with new information.

opinion of hb2 by political ideology

Opinion of HB2 by political ideology is probably the least surprising graph. Among the NC State students we surveyed, only 28% identified as conservative, with 43% identifying as liberal, and 29% reporting having no particular self-identification. Although HB2 retains majority support among students that identify as conservatives, the conversation among other groups is decidedly negative.

opinion of hb2 by gender

Gender also proved to show stark differences, with females being 9% more disapproving than males, despite the “neither” category being unchanged between the genders. This finding is consistent with Pew Press’ findings in early October regarding which bathrooms people think transgender individuals should use, showing a 10 point spread, but overall far less support among the nation at large.

opinion of hb2 by race

The breakdown of opinion of HB2 by race shows relatively consistent disapproval rates between White, Black, and Asian students, but a notably lower approval rating among Hispanic NC State students. Additionally, there is an almost double “no opinion” rate for Asian students. Overall, the distaste for HB2 is loud and clear, though it may fluctuate more or less among the various demographic breakdowns.

Toplines are available here: Big Poll Fall 2016 Top Lines

Methodology

This “Big Poll” took place October 2-6, 2016. The survey was administered over the internet to a random sample of 4,000 NCSU undergraduates, generating a 22% response rate for completed surveys. Sampling error is +/-3% for completed surveys and questions asked of the full sample; it is higher for sub-groups and questions asked of only portions of the full sample.

In addition to sampling error, other forms of error occur in surveys, such as confusion about question wording or the order of questions, but these are not precisely quantifiable. We have applied post-stratification sample weights for demographic imbalances in gender, which had minor but noticeable effects on the results.

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