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Elon University Poll: Economy to play strong role in '08 elections

North Carolina citizens cite the economy as the most important issue facing the state and say it will strongly influence how they vote in the upcoming presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections, according to the latest Elon University Poll.

The poll, conducted Feb. 18-21 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 764 North Carolina residents.  The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent and is weighted by gender. The sample is of the population in general and does not restrict respondents by their voter eligibility or their likelihood of voting in an election.

“Seeing the economy become so pronounced in such a short time indicates true concern among citizens about their personal financial well-being,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “As people begin to feel the direct effects of the poor economy, pocketbook issues may become their primary concern in the voting booth.”

The poll found that in the upcoming May primary elections for North Carolina, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama holds a double-digit lead over New York Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton, his rival on the Democratic ticket for president.

Barack Obama: 45 percent
Hillary Clinton: 31 percent
Too early to tell / don’t know: 22 percent

On the Republican ticket, Arizona Sen. John McCain has more than double the support among citizens than former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Respondents indicated little support for Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

John McCain: 62 percent
Mike Huckabee: 24 percent
Ron Paul: 3 percent
Too early to tell / don’t know: 10 percent


North Carolinians remain divided over which party to support in the 2008 presidential election, with 40 percent planning to support the Democratic Party and 35 percent indicating they will support the Republican Party.  Twenty-one percent of citizens believe it is too early to tell or do not know which party they will support.

Respondents listed the following as the most important issues facing the state:

Economy: 29 percent
Education: 12 percent
Environment/Energy (including the drought): 10 percent
Taxes: 7 percent
Immigration: 7 percent
Public assistance/Medicaid or Medicare: 6 percent

The Elon poll shows that some issues have a more pronounced effect on a national level than they do on a state level when it comes to choosing candidates for the upcoming elections. For example, while 53 percent said the economy will influence their vote for governor, 70 percent said it will effect how they vote in the presidential election. Transportation and education have a larger impact on the vote for governor than they do for presidential choices.

Respondents were also split on which party to support in the North Carolina gubernatorial contest, as 36 percent back the Democratic Party and 31 percent favor the Republican Party. Thirty-two percent said it is too early to tell or that they do not know which party to support. 

Among those who support the Democratic Party:

Beverly Perdue: 40 percent
Richard Moore: 28 percent
Too early to tell / don’t know: 32 percent

Among those who support the Republican Party:

Pat McCrory: 28 percent
Fred Smith: 12 percent
Bill Graham: 10 percent
Bob Orr: 6 percent.
Too early to tell / don’t know: 44 percent

Eric Townsend,
Staff
2/22/2008 9:31 AM