Charlotte mayoral race remains wide open

Half the citizens of Mecklenburg County believe their community has gotten off on the wrong track, and though more than two thirds of Charlotte residents in the latest Elon University Poll believe the upcoming mayoral and council elections are significant, no clear frontrunner has emerged in the race to replace outgoing Mayor Pat McCrory.

The poll, conducted Sept. 16-20, 2009, in cooperation with Johnson C. Smith University, surveyed 422 Mecklenburg County residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones. Respondents were not restricted by voter registration or likelihood of voting.

Johnson C. Smith University will host a candidate forum on Tuesday, Sept. 22, with Elon University Poll results scheduled for use in a 7 p.m. conversation between the two major party mayoral candidates in the university’s Biddle Hall.

Fifty-one percent of respondents believe things have gotten off on the wrong track in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community. Of those respondents living within the city limits, 68 percent indicating the upcoming elections are very important for Charlotte.

When asked what are the most important issues facing the community, Charlotte residents cite elementary and secondary education and the economy as their top concerns, with 26 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

“Crime and drugs” is also an issue, with 12 percent of residents selecting it as the most pressing issue.

“There are clearly some issues resonating with the citizens of Charlotte that present the candidates an opportunity to distinguish themselves among voters,” said Mileah Kromer, assistant director of the Elon University Poll.

The Charlotte mayoral candidates have yet to differentiate themselves, as respondents do not indicate a clear preference for either John Lassiter or Anthony Foxx. Respondents are also undecided on who would handle specific issues better. Thirty-five percent of Charlotte residents surveyed said they had no clear party preference in the mayoral race.

Charlotte residents are divided between whether the Democrats or the Republicans will do a better job overall confronting the issues facing the community. Respondents believe Democrats will do a better job handling affordable housing (52 percent), preserving neighborhoods (41 percent) and education (40 percent), and believe Republicans will do a better job handling taxes (44 percent) and crime (42 percent).

Thirty-three percent of residents plan to support Democrats in the City Council race, while 26 percent will be supporting Republicans. Thirty-one percent are still undecided. Respondents were also asked to rate the City Council’s effectiveness:

  • Not at all effective: 16 percent
  • Somewhat effective: 73 percent
  • Very effective: 4 percent
  • Don’t know: 7 percent

Gov. Bev Perdue received negative reviews from residents of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.

  • Handling of her job as governor: 48 percent disapprove, 35 percent approve
  • Handling of the state’s economy: 53 percent disapprove, 32 percent approve
  • Handling of the state’s budget: 51 percent disapprove, 31 percent approve