Elon Poll: Burr approval numbers low as election nears

With the 2010 congressional midterm elections less than a week away, only one third of respondents in the latest Elon University poll believed Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr deserves re-election as he fends off Democratic challenger Elaine Marshall.

The poll, conducted Oct. 24-27, 2010, surveyed 515 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones. The Elon University Poll does not restrict respondents by voter eligibility or likelihood of voting.

Forty-five percent of residents think it is time for a new person to have a chance to fill the seat Burr holds, the poll found. However, respondents were even split when asked which party they plan to support in the Senate race, with both the Democrats and the Republicans each pulling 33 percent support from respondents. More than a quarter of poll respondents – 27 percent – have yet to decide which party to support.

The economy remains the foremost issue on the minds of North Carolinians; as well it is the issue that respondents say will most influence their vote next week.

When asked about some qualities or characteristics that could influence their evaluations of candidates, North Carolinians indicated that top four factors that had “a lot” of influence on their votes included:

Legislative record (54%)
Overall experience (46%)
Personality (27%)
How long they’ve served in office (22%)

Gender (83%), race (87%) and where they are from (75%) were all identified as having “no influence at all” on voting decisions.

President Barack Obama

While evenly divided on President Barack Obama’s job approval, 55 percent of North Carolinians indicate that his job performance will influence how they vote next week. Of those that say President Obama is influencing their vote, 51 percent say they are more likely to support Republicans and 33 percent say they are more likely to support Democrats.

U.S. Congress

The United States Congress is quite loathed among the public – 71 percent of respondents disapprove of the way it is doing its job. The public is especially displeased with Democrats in Congress as only 14 percent trust them to do the best job with the main issues facing the country over the next couple of years. That compared to 35 percent who believe President Barack Obama will do the best job and 32 percent who trust Republicans in Congress to do the best job.

When asked which party would do a better job handling specific policy issues, respondents indicated that Republicans would do a better job handling immigration, job creation, taxes and family values. Democrats were viewed as better able to handle the economy, health care and housing issues.

“As the election nears, it is becoming more apparent that displeasure with national politics and the president is playing a role in North Carolina’s congressional elections,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “This points to the likelihood of some very close races next week for these Democratic representatives.“

Governor Bev Perdue

Forty-eight percent of North Carolinians disapprove of how Gov. Bev Perdue is handling her job, while 39 percent approve. Displeasure with Perdue translates in voter influence as 45 percent indicate that her performance will influence how they vote next week.

Of those saying the Perdue’s job performance will influence their vote, 41 percent say it will make them less likely to vote for Democrats and 45 percent say it will make them more likely to vote for Republicans.