Elon University Poll: North Carolinians support Dole in Washington

A slight majority of North Carolina residents approve of how Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole is handling her job and are satisfied with her representation of North Carolina, according to the latest Elon University Poll, but state residents give low performance marks to President George W. Bush and to Congress as a whole.

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.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said they approve or strongly approve of Dole’s performance. As for Dole’s re-election bid this fall:

Plan to vote for Dole: 37 percent
Plan to vote against Dole: 25 percent
Too early to tell or don’t know: 37 percent

Of those citizens planning to vote against her, 81 percent have not decided on the candidate they will support to oppose Dole in the fall general election.

“While Senator Dole receives decent reviews from North Carolinians overall, the Bush presidency is tempering her support a bit in the state, and this could prove a liability as she runs for reelection this fall,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.

Turning to the president and Congress, the public remains disenchanted with both. Respondents approve or strongly approve of the way Bush:

Handles his overall job as president: 36 percent
Handles the economy: 35 percent
Handles the war in Iraq: 35 percent

Fifty-seven percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of his overall job.

Congress was rated likewise by respondents. Fifty-one percent said they have no confidence or not much confidence in Congress, while 46 percent indicate that their confidence in Congress has decreased. Yet, with regard to the main issues facing the country, 44 percent of citizens trust ‘the Democrats in Congress’ to do a better job than Bush. Thirty-three percent trust Bush to do a better job.

Citizens of North Carolina are more mixed in what they expect to be accomplished in Washington this year. Fifty-two percent of respondents expect Congress will accomplish nothing at all or not too much, and 45 percent feel that Congress will accomplish some, a good amount, or a great deal this year.

“While both Congress and the president are not rated very highly, prospects appear more bleak than usual for this administration as it isn’t very often that you see people rating Congress higher than the president,” Bacot said.