Elon Poll: North Carolinians blame GOP for economic woes

With nearly half of North Carolinians blaming the Republican Party for current economic conditions nationwide, levels of support for both the GOP and the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election have drawn even among those living in the Tar Heel State, according to the latest Elon University Poll.

The poll, conducted Sept. 29 – Oct. 2 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, found that 39 percent of respondents supported the Republican Party while another 39 percent supported the Democratic Party. When asked who was more responsible for the current state of the economy:

Democrats: 24%
Republicans: 48%
Neither Party: 13%

When asked who would do a better job managing the economy:

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama: 44%
Republican Sen. John McCain: 42%
Neither Candidate: 7%

The tie differed from the last poll taken two weeks ago when support for the GOP outweighed support for the Democrats by seven percentage points for the presidential race. It was also before the U.S. House of Representatives voted against legislation that would have bailed out the financial industry during a credit crisis that has the potential to damage the economy.

The first presidential debate of the fall may have also helped moved public sentiment. Thirty-one percent of respondents said John McCain knew more about the issues while 30 percent favored Obama when asked about command of issues. Twenty-nine percent of respondents did not watch the Sept. 26 presidential debate.

Of the respondents who indicated that they watched the debate, 35 percent of respondents indicated that McCain won the debate and 45 percent of respondents indicated Obama won the debate.

The poll surveyed 477 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of 4.6 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones, and does not restrict respondents by their voter eligibility or likelihood of voting in an election. ?

“North Carolina, following the national trend, is leaning Democrat for President.  Should this pattern prevail, the result would be a startling change in state presidential politics for more than one reason,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.  “Not only have the Democrats failed to win North Carolina in over thirty years, such a victory would mark a major milestone for the black community here and throughout the South.”

Poll respondents indicated a different level of support for the candidates in the state’s U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who is running for a second term, and state Sen. Kay Hagan.

Forty-six percent of respondents said it is time for a new person to have a chance to represent North Carolina in the Senate. That is a slight improvement for Dole compared to the previous poll, when 51 percent of respondents called for a change.

The race for the seat is nearly even, with the Democratic Party receiving support from 37% of respondents and the Republican Party receiving support from 35% of respondents.


The gubernatorial contest remains tight, with 37 percent of respondents supporting the Republican Party and 33 percent supporting the Democratic Party.

Respondents were asked to rate each gubernatorial candidate’s qualification for office using a 10-point scale, with 1 being “not qualified at all” and 10 being “highly qualified.”

The results for Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue:

1-3 rating: 15 percent
4-7 rating: 45 percent
8-10 rating: 18 percent
Don’t Know: 22 percent

The results for Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory:

1-3 rating: 9 percent
4-7 rating: 41 percent
8-10 rating: 26 percent
Don’t Know: 24 percent