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Elon University Poll finds support for Shuler, low approval ratings for Taylor in N.C.’s 11th U.S. House District race

A new Elon University Poll conducted in North Carolina’s 11th U.S. House District shows 51 percent of respondents disapprove or strongly disapprove of Republican incumbent Charles Taylor’s job performance in Congress. While 35 percent of respondents approve or strongly approve of Taylor, 47 percent of citizens approve or strongly approve of the Democratic challenger in the Nov. 7 election, Heath Shuler.

The poll, conducted October 22-26 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 400 residents in North Carolina’s 11th U.S. House District. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.99 percent. The sample is of the population in general and does not restrict respondents by their voter eligibility or their likelihood of voting in the election.

“Taylor’s high disapproval ratings, coupled with an attractive candidate in Shuler, show that Taylor’s days representing the 11th District may be coming to an end,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.

When asked about their confidence in Taylor as the 11th District representative, 46 percent said they had no confidence or not much confidence, while 46 percent said they had some confidence or a lot of confidence. Fifty-one percent said they would have some confidence or a lot of confidence in Shuler as the district’s representative, while 34 percent said they would have not much confidence or no confidence in Shuler.

Respondents in the 11th District were also asked whether they believe the country is going in the right direction or if things have gotten off track. Seventy-two percent believe the country is on the wrong track, while 20 percent say the country is going in the right direction. In addition, 13 percent said most members of Congress have done a good enough job to deserve re-election, while 68 percent said it is time to give new people a chance to serve in Congress. Forty-six percent of respondents said they will support the Democratic candidate in the upcoming election, while 26 percent said they will support the Republican candidate. Twenty-one percent said they do not know which candidate they will support.

“It appears that Taylor is a victim of a national anti-incumbency mood,” said Bacot. “Citizens in his district are not pleased with him, nor are they pleased with the way the Republican Party has handled things in Washington. Given these circumstances, the 11th District seat may switch from Republican to Democrat in next week’s election.”

Citizens in the 11th District were asked which issues will affect their vote in the upcoming Congressional election. Eighty-one percent said health care costs will influence their vote, while 80 percent said the situation in Iraq will influence their vote. Political corruption (75 percent), the economy (73 percent), terrorism (71 percent), immigration (71 percent), taxes (69 percent), family values (69 percent), and gas prices (53 percent) were also among the issues respondents could choose from.

Citizens were also asked which party would handle these issues better. Respondents said Democrats would handle all nine issues better than Republicans.

“With most issues almost equal in the minds of voters, it seems that people are factoring something else into their voting equation,” said Bacot. “There could be another issue that turns the tide in this election year. For this contest, as well as others across the nation, that issue could be the individual representative or the representative’s party.”

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.