Elon Poll: Burr most recognizable name in contest for U.S. Senate

North Carolina U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a first term Republican seeking re-election in November, is the most recognizable name and has the highest favorability ratings in a crowded field of candidates looking to win his seat, according to the latest Elon University Poll.

Two-thirds of respondents in the poll recognize him as a candidate for office compared to 35 percent of respondents who recognized the next closest household name, Elaine Marshall, North Carolina’s Democratic Secretary of State who hopes to take his job. Burr and Marshall have their respective party primaries in May.

Thirty-four percent of respondents view Burr favorably with Marshall’s favorability rating measuring 18 percent. All other candidates are battling obscurity with, on average, 75 percent of respondents indicating no views on favorability or that they don’t recognize candidates’ names.

The poll, conducted March 14-17, 2010, surveyed 579 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. Respondents were not limited by voter registration or likelihood of voting. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones.

“With the national political tempest surrounding health care and the economy, North Carolinians have yet to focus on the upcoming election,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “As the primaries are only six weeks away, candidates have a lot of work to do in a limited amount of time.”

The Economy

The economy continues to be the most important issue for North Carolina residents. A majority of respondents believe the state and nation have gotten off on the wrong track.

Direction of country:

Wrong track: 61.8 percent
Right direction: 34.4 percent

Direction of state:

Wrong track: 58.2 percent
Right direction: 32.2 percent

Thirty-five percent of respondents expect the economy to “get better,” which nearly double perspectives from Fall 2009. Thirty-six percent of respondents expect it to “stay about the same.”

One third of respondents – 33.6 percent – expect their personal financial situation to get better. Much like the economy, positive expectations are nearly double what respondents reported in the fall. Fifty-three percent expect it to stay about the same.

State Legislature and Congress

Though North Carolinians view their state legislators as harder working than their national legislators, only about a third of respondents rate their legislative bodies as ‘hard working.’ Nearly half of North Carolinians – 49 percent – do not believe the United States Congress does much work.

Sixty-five percent of respondents believe they could trust their state government ‘some of the time’ to do what is in the public’s interest. Twenty-five percent of North Carolinians indicated that they could trust government none or very little of the time.