Duke Beats Trump, But Trump May Still Beat Clinton

North Carolina continues to be a tight battleground state in the race for President – and the fact that the race is tightening nationwide only makes our state that much more important.

In the latest survey conducted by Public Policy Polling – this one commissioned by the National Employment Law Project – Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump 45-44 in North Carolina. (This particular survey did not include Gary Johnson or Jill Stein as options.) Trump and Clinton each win 79 percent of the vote from members of their own party; Trump holds a 48-29 lead over Clinton among independents.

There are clear demographic gaps as well: Clinton leads Trump by 13 points among women (52-39), while Trump leads by 14 points among men (50-36); Trump has a huge lead among white voters, 59-29, but Clinton leads among African-Americans by an even more staggering margin of 90-1. (Clinton leads among Hispanic voters too, but by a narrower margin of 47-33.)

Nationwide, PPP’s August survey shows Clinton with a 5-point lead on Trump, 42-37 (with 6 percent for Johnson and 4 percent for Stein). The 5-point margin is unchanged from PPP’s July survey – but the number of undecided voters doubled in the space of a month, from 5 percent in July to 10 percent in August. That’s unusual for a presidential election: typically, the number of undecided voters declines as Election Day draws nearer.

More results from PPP’s August national survey here.

Why are there more undecided voters now? PPP director Tom Jensen says he thinks it’s because the two major candidates are extremely unpopular. (In fact, their already-low approval ratings are still in decline.) Clinton’s approval rating is only 41 percent (with a 52 percent disapproval rating) – but Trump is even more unpopular, with only 33 percent of voters approving of him and 60 percent disapproving.

(How unpopular is Donald Trump? PPP tested him head-to-head against other notably unpopular things and found he’s slightly more popular than junk mail, mosquitoes, and Ryan Lochte – but less popular than public restrooms, the middle seat on an airplane, and Duke University.)

Tom Jensen discussed the latest national numbers – as well as the NELP-commissioned North Carolina survey – on WCHL with Aaron Keck.


Other recent survey results:

  • PPP continues to find that Trump voters distrust the democratic process to a shocking degree: though there’s still no evidence of widespread voter fraud, 59 percent of Trump voters nationwide believe that about 10-25 percent of the votes that get counted are fraudulently cast. (And 67 percent of Trump voters believe that if Clinton is ultimately declared the winner this fall, it will only be because the election was rigged.)
  • In addition to the predictable demographic gaps, there’s also a gap between voters who’ve visited a public library this year (54-37 for Clinton) and voters who haven’t (53-39 for Trump).
  • 67 percent of voters believe Donald Trump should release his tax returns – but it’s not clear whether his refusal to do so will actually sway any of their votes.
  • What might sway voters is how the candidates stand on a minimum wage increase. In North Carolina, Republican incumbent Richard Burr narrowly leads Democratic challenger Deborah Ross, 46-43, in the race for US Senate. But 72 percent of North Carolinians support an increase in the federal minimum wage, 62 percent support increasing it to $15 per hour – and Ross actually takes a lead on Burr, 45-42, when voters are informed that Burr opposes a minimum wage increase. (Fair warning on that result, though: it’s from the survey that was commissioned by NELP, which favors a $15 minimum wage.)

Tom Jensen and Aaron Keck also discussed the results of PPP’s recent survey in Utah – which showed Trump with a sizable lead on Clinton, despite being unpopular among Mormon voters – as well as the state of the gubernatorial race in North Carolina, where recent polls show Roy Cooper with a lead on Pat McCrory.


Senator Richard Burr Endorses Donald Trump

Republican leaders, like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, are hesitant about endorsing Donald Trump, but that is not the case for one of North Carolina’s senators.

Senator Richard Burr announced his support for Trump via Twitter on Wednesday. He said in a tweet that he had always planned to support whoever became the Republican nominee. He also tweeted there would not be a third term for the Clinton/Obama Administration, using the #NeverHillary.

But according to a recent poll, that decision may not be popular with North Carolina voters. Public Policy Polling’s director Tom Jenson explains.

“That is a dangerous thing for Burr to be doing,” said Jenson. “We asked on a poll in North Carolina last month, if Richard Burr supported Donald Trump for president, would that make you more or less likely to vote for Burr, or would it not make a difference one way or the other?

“We found that for Burr, endorsing Trump was a 25 point negative. 25 percent more people said endorsing Trump would make them less likely to vote for Burr,” said Jenson.

Jenson predicts, however, that the presidential race will be a much closer contest than many are anticipating.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that good of a year for Democrats and I don’t think that Donald Trump is going to be nearly that bad of a candidate for the Republicans,” said Jenson.

Governor Pat McCrory has also said he would support Donald Trump if he was the Republican nominee.


North Carolinians Find Common Ground

In a time where we continually hear about divided politics and the polarization of America, a new poll from Public Policy Polling said there are a few issues North Carolinians can agree on.

“Redistricting has obviously been one of the biggest issues in the state so far this year,” said director Tom Jensen. “We found 59 percent of voters in the state want the law changed so district lines are drawn up in an nonpartisan fashion. Only nine percent of voters are opposed to doing that.”

The democrats surveyed supported independent redistricting 65 to six. Independents supported it 56 to 12 and republicans supported it 54 to 11.

“What’s most interesting is those republican numbers,” Jensen said. “Certainly if there was independent redistricting republicans would not have quite as lofty of a majority as they do in the congressional delegation and in the state legislature right now, but we find on that ‘small d’ democracy issue even republicans are in agreement.”

Jenson said North Carolinians are also in agreement on mandatory background checks for gun purchases, raising the minimum wage to 10 dollars an hour and the EPA clean power plan, but these agreements don’t always turn into action.

“Even when you have 17 republicans running, not a single one of them would say they supported increasing the minimum wage, even to $10 an hour,” he said. “We find the republican base has a very different view than republican politicians with 53 percent supporting at least ($10 dollars an hour).”

While these issues are more closely associated with democratic candidates, democratic challengers at the state level are having a hard time picking up votes.

Republican senator Richard Burr and governor Pat McCrory are both up for reelection in November.

“The interesting dynamic you have with both McCrory and Burr is that republican voters aren’t that in love with them,” Jensen said. “Burr has about a 50 percent approval rating with republicans. McCrory is in the 60s. But then when you ask would you vote for McCrory or Roy Cooper, Richard or the democrat, they get 80 to 85 percent of the vote.”

Jenson said McCrory has a -7 approval rating, but still leads expected challenger Roy Cooper by a few points. Burr has a -11 approval rating, but leads his expected challenger Deborah Ross by six points.

“There are a lot of republicans who don’t actually like them, but will still vote for them over a democrat,” Jensen said.



Latest Poll Finds New Republican Front-Runner For Senate

RALEIGH – Public Policy Polling(PPP) released their latest poll on the North Carolina Senate race this week, and for the third time in as many months found a different Republican front-runner to challenge Kay Hagan this fall.

“The top choice among Republicans to be their U.S Senate candidate next year would be Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest,” says PPP director Tom Jensen. “We find him polling at 18%, 13% for Congresswomen Virginia Foxx, 12% for Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, and 10% for Congresswomen Renee Ellmers. Everybody else who we tested drew single-digits.”

The poll also shows the probable Republican candidates are struggling with name recognition. Only Forest and Berry were recognized by over half of respondents.

Jensen says the lack of name recognition is leading to a wide-open race.

“In January, Virginia Foxx had the lead and last month Cherrie Berry had the lead,” says Jensen. “I think when you see a different leader every month like that, it just shows how really wide open the Republican Senate race is. None of the folks are particularly well-known at that point, and that means it is really up for grabs. Just about anyone could win the nomination.”

Currently, North Carolina’s two senators are Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Kay Hagan. Hagan’s term will end in 2015. Jensen says while Hagan is currently leading by a fairly wide margin, the race will certainly tighten closer to election date.

“She has leads ranging from 10 to 19 points against these Republicans,” says Jensen. “I think that Hagan is in a pretty decent position, but it is still going to get closer. We see a lot of undecided Republicans in all of these matchups simply because Republican voters are not familiar with their potential candidates”

According to Jensen, Dan Forest and Patrick McHenry poll the best in direct competition with Hagan.

Because of the lack of recognition of Republican candidates, Jensen says Hagan’s approval numbers may be a better indicator of how close the race could be this fall.

“On that front, we find voters pretty closely divided,” says Jensen. “42% of voters think she is doing a good job and 39% disapprove. When you have someone who’s approval ratings are so closely divided like that, you are likely to have a pretty close race.”