North Carolinians undecided on presidential, gubernatorial choice; support for President Bush declines


A majority of North Carolinians have not decided who they will vote for in the 2008 presidential and gubernatorial races, while President George W. Bush’s approval rating has dropped to 36 percent, the latest Elon University Poll finds.

The poll, conducted April 16-19 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 476 North Carolina residents. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percent. 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. The questions concerning the 2008 presidential and gubernatorial races were open-ended, and the respondents were not given a list of candidates from which to choose. Additionally, these questions were asked without regard to party affiliation.

When asked an open-ended question about who they plan to support in the 2008 presidential election, 57 percent of respondents said they do not know or it is too early to tell.

Ten percent said they plan to support Hillary Clinton, followed by Barack Obama (9 percent), John Edwards (8 percent) and Rudy Giuliani (5 percent). John McCain, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and Al Gore were each named by 1 percent.

“It’s interesting to note that John Edwards doesn’t lead the state he once represented in the Senate,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.

When asked an open-ended question about who they plan to support in the 2008 North Carolina governor’s race, 87 percent of respondents said they do not know or it is too early to tell.

Beverly Perdue was named by 3 percent of respondents, followed by Richard Moore (2 percent) and Bill Graham (1 percent).

“These numbers show that people aren’t tuned into the 2008 elections yet,” said Bacot. “This isn’t surprising, because the candidates are trying to raise money right now and haven’t committed time to campaigning for votes yet.”

North Carolina citizens were also asked if they approve or disapprove of the way Elizabeth Dole is handling her job as U.S. Senator. Fifty-two percent approve or strongly approve of her performance, 30 percent disapprove or strongly disapprove, and 18 percent do not know. Dole plans to run for re-election in 2008.

The poll also asked citizens about George W. Bush’s job performance as president. Sixty-one percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush’s performance. Thirty-six percent approve or strongly approve of his job performance, down from 45 percent in a September 2006 Elon Poll.

Twenty-eight percent approve or strongly approve of the way Bush is handling the war in Iraq, down from 38 percent in the September 2006 Elon Poll. In this latest poll, 70 percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq.

Sixty-five percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush’s plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq; 32 percent approve or strongly approve. When asked whether they support or oppose plans for setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in 2008, 60 percent support or strongly support such a plan, while 35 percent oppose or strongly oppose such a plan.

“In a traditionally Republican state, where the military is generally well-received, it’s surprising to see these low numbers,” said Bacot. “These poll results are by far Bush’s worst in North Carolina.”

Fifty percent said they believe the war in Iraq has made the U.S. less safe from terrorism, while 32 percent said the U.S. is more safe. Sixty-one percent said the U.S. is now more at risk for future terrorist attacks, while 23 percent said the country is less at risk of an attack. Twelve percent said the risk remains about the same.

The Elon University Poll has conducted several polls annually since 2000. The non-partisan Elon University Poll conducts frequent scientific telephone polls on issues of importance citizens. The poll results are shared with media, citizens and researchers to facilitate representative democracy and public policy making through the better understanding of the opinions and needs of citizens in the state and region.