Elon University Poll finds Clinton, Thompson leading presidential races

North Carolina citizens are almost evenly divided on which political party to support in the 2008 presidential election, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole received mixed reviews for her job performance, according to the latest Elon University Poll. Details...

The Elon University Poll, conducted Sept. 24-27 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 664 North Carolina residents. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 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.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they plan to support the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election, while 34 percent of respondents indicated their support for the Republican Party. Twenty-five percent of citizens believe it is too early to tell or do not know which party they will support.

Democratic candidates that respondents favored most often:

Republican candidates that respondents favored most often:

“Hillary Clinton has a striking lead over both John Edwards and Barack Obama among North Carolinians,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “This is noteworthy given that this is Edwards’ home state.”

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole

Half of North Carolinians approve or strongly approve of the way U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole is handling her job, the Elon University Poll found, while nearly 24 percent disapproved or strongly disapproved of her performance to date. Fifty-three percent of North Carolinians indicated they are satisfied or very satisfied with the senator’s representation of North Carolina.

Respondents indicated various levels of satisfaction with Dole’s representation of North Carolinians on public policy issues. Those indicating they were satisfied or very satisfied:

* Family Values: 54 percent
* Education: 47 percent
* Transportation: 40 percent
* Economy: 39 percent
* Political Corruption: 35 percent
* The Iraq War: 32 percent
* Health Care Costs: 32 percent
* Immigration: 28 percent

When considering what issues will influence their vote for U.S. Senator next year, respondents gave the following answers:

* The Iraq War: 78 percent
* Economy: 76 percent
* Health Care Costs: 75 percent
* Immigration: 73 percent
* Taxes: 72 percent
* Education: 72 percent
* Family Values: 66 percent
* Political Corruption: 65 percent
* Transportation: 37 percent

Almost 51 percent of North Carolinians indicated that President George W. Bush’s performance was somewhat or very important in their evaluation of Dole.

“North Carolinians are mixed in evaluating Dole’s performance,” Bacot said. “For example, on two core Republican issues, family values and taxes, she both pleases and displeases her constituents. More importantly, the dissatisfaction with how she’s handling the Iraq War issue, coupled with its emergence as the dominant issue influencing how citizens will vote, could prove quite problematic for her campaign should someone decide to oppose her.

“At this point, with the election one year away, it is worth noting her lack of support among a majority of citizens, particularly considering she is the incumbent and unopposed.”

Considering possible candidates to oppose Dole in the upcoming election for the U.S. Senate, without particular choices offered, 72 percent of citizens said it is too early to tell or they do not know who should oppose her.

Election for North Carolina governor

Looking to the approaching North Carolina election for governor, citizens are split on which party to support as 35 percent plan to support the Democrat Party, 32 percent plan to support the Republican candidate and 29 percent feel it is too early to tell or that they don’t know.

Among those who reported support for the Democratic Party, 38 percent feel it is too early to tell or do not know who they will support, 35 percent plan to support Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, and 27 percent plan to support Treasurer Richard Moore.

Among North Carolinians who plan to support the Republican Party, 67 percent do not know which Republican candidate they will support. Those respondents indicating support for these Republican candidates spread it evenly among all three candidates: Bill Graham (12 percent), Bob Orr (11 percent) and Fred Smith (11 percent).