When North Carolina and Duke take to the floor tomorrow night the state's voters will be rooting for the Tar Heels. 41% say they'll be rooting for UNC to 31% for the Blue Devils. That's actually the closest spread PPP has found between the two schools in five years of asking this- in previous years voters favored the Heels by anywhere from 14 to 16 points.
One thing we did different this year was ask supporters of the other major schools in the state who they pull for in the UNC-Duke clash. Wake Forest fans go overwhelmingly for Duke (43-17), while East Carolina partisans prefer the Tar Heels 41-22. NC State fans split almost evenly with 37% going for UNC to 36% for Duke.
We went a little more in depth than usual this year on how UNC and Duke fans view their opposing school:
-UNC fans are more inclined to root against Duke when the two schools aren't playing each other than Duke fans are to root against UNC. 36% of Tar Heel partisans say they generally root against the Devils to 23% who say they usually root for them and 41% who don't care. Carolina fans describing themselves as 'hardcore' tend to pull for Duke to lose by a 66/12 spread.
Duke backers are more evenly split. 35% say they generally root for UNC and 35% say they generally cheer against UNC. As with the UNC fan base, 'hardcore' Duke fans are much more interested in seeing the Tar Heels lose- 53% generally want their rival to fail to 32% who want them to succeed.
This divide between 'hardcore' and moderate to casual fans is something we see pretty much any time we poll on college sports. The diehard fans who want their rival school to lose every game are a relatively small part of the fan base.
The greatest level of disdain in North Carolina college sports actually flows from NC State fans toward UNC- only 28% of them respect the flagship while 57% say they don't like it very much or hate it.
-Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski are both highly respected figures in North Carolina. Williams is viewed favorably by 51% of voters to just 10% who see him negatively. He's at 72/6 with UNC fans and 48/13 with Duke fans. Krzyzewski is also seen positively by 51% of voters, although his negatives are a little higher at 15%. He's at 76/4 with Duke fans and 46/27 with UNC fans.
North Carolina has an open Governor's race this fall and Williams and Krzyzewski are both popular and somewhat political so we looked at what would happen if they duked it out- Krzyzewski edges Williams 34-31. That's largely because Duke Democrats support Krzyzewski by 15 points, while UNC Republicans favor Williams by only 3.
Taking off the pollster hat all of this talk of mutual respect makes me want to vomit in my mouth. My name is Tom Jensen and I'm a Tar Heel. I hate Duke, I hate Mike Krzyzewski, and I want Duke to lose all games in all sports unless they're playing NC State in football or baseball. But I guess that makes me a minority within our fan base.
Full results here