North Carolina residents express lukewarm confidence at best in the candidates running for the White House this fall, according to the latest Elon University Poll, though incumbent President Barack Obama receives higher marks for handling both domestic and foreign policy issues than his Republican rivals.
The poll, conducted March 26-29, 2012, surveyed 534 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.24 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones. The Elon University Poll does not restrict respondents by voter eligibility or likelihood of voting.
When it comes to foreign policy, the following percentages of respondents said they were confident in each candidate’s ability to handle related issues:
Barack Obama: 42 percent
Newt Gingrich: 28 percent
Mitt Romney: 24 percent
Rick Santorum: 22 percent
Ron Paul: 16 percent
When it comes to domestic policy, the following percentages of respondents said they were confident in each candidate’s ability to handle related issues:
Barack Obama: 38 percent
Rick Santorum: 29 percent
Mitt Romney: 28 percent
Ron Paul: 24 percent
Newt Gingrich: 20 percent
“North Carolinians don’t express an overwhelming amount of confidence in any candidate’s ability to handle domestic or foreign policy issues,” said John Robinson, director of communications for the Elon University Poll. “That said, President Obama fares better than any of the Republicans. We like to see candidates on our home turf. President Obama has visited here often, and the Republicans have been busy campaigning elsewhere.”
The economy remains the most important issue facing North Carolina. Fifty-seven percent of respondents cited it as such, followed by elementary & secondary education at 10 percent. Energy and gas prices rank third, with just 6 percent of respondents indicating it’s the top issue in the state.
“The economy continues to concern North Carolinians, which isn’t surprising given the unemployment rate and gas prices,” Robinson said. “Interestingly, 10 percent of citizens think education is the most important issue, which is unsurprising considering statewide discussion over teacher layoffs and budget shortfalls.”