One of the questions we ask each month is a baseline question about whether voters think the state is headed in the right direction or gotten off on the wrong track.
For most of last year, as the economy went south, wrong track was outpacing right direction hitting a low of 33-52 (-19 points) in our October 2008 survey. Then in our November poll, immediately after President Obama's victory, the tide suddenly turned back around as voters' apparent optimism for the new administration led them to say it was headed in the right direction despite the economic situation (42-41).
That spread opened up to 49-38 right direction over wrong track in January and has been at about a 10 point margin until this month.
In our May poll, voters now say the state is back headed in the wrong track (42-48).
A couple of things contributing to this:
1. The "honeymoon" for Democrats not named Barack Obama appears to be over. While Obama is still maintaining high approval ratings, the generic ballot test has fallen back to the normal spread (D+3).
2. Voters are beginning to separate their still positive feelings for Obama with the economic conditions in our state. Unemployment continues to rise, the governor issued a pay cut for state employees and teachers, and the General Assembly is pondering massive tax increases, setting the state for some unpopular activities by government. (And I think the Easley scandals are playing into the equation a little as well).