Mark Chilton and Valerie Foushee are the top choices of voters in Chatham and Orange Counties to replace Ellie Kinnaird in the State Senate, PPP's newest survey finds. 36% of voters say Chilton would be one of their top two choices, and 28% rank Foushee in their top two. There's little support for any of the remaining candidates- 14% put Alice Bordsen in their top two, Heidi Chapman has 7%, Amy Tiemann 5%, Jim Porto 2%, and M. Lynette Hartsell 1%.
Chilton and Foushee are also the only people who have put their names in the mix that a majority of voters in the district are familiar with. They are both quite popular among voters familiar with them and hold nearly identical favorability ratings- Chilton's at 40/14 and Foushee's at 40/13. The rest of the applicants are basically unknown to the folks they hope to represent- Bordsen has 24% name recognition, Tiemann 19%, Porto 18%, Chapman 17%, and Hartsell 13%.
Chilton comes out in first because of strong support in Carrboro (36/15 over Foushee), Chapel Hill (31/15), and Chatham County (21% to 7% for Bordsen with Foushee at 6%.) Foushee does best in unincorporated Orange County (33% to 15% for Bordsen with Chilton at 13%) and Hillsborough (24% to 13% for Chapman with Chilton at 12%).
One thing that may have Chilton polling well for this vacancy is his decision to get arrested as part of the 'Moral Monday' protests. 75% of voters in the district approve of local elected officials who got arrested as part of that movement compared to only 18% who take issue with their decisions.
Whoever gets the appointment will have hard a time filling Kinnaird's shoes in voters' eyes. She leaves office with a 72% approval rating and only 14% of voters disapproving of the work she did in the Senate. Those are the strongest numbers we've found for an elected official anywhere in the country so far this year. Nevertheless voters don't necessarily think Kinnaird should be able to determine her successor. Only 19% agree with Kinnaird's premise that it's necessary for her replacement to be a woman, compared to 68% who disagree with that thought- even among women it's just 24% who think her replacement needs to be one to 60% who don't. And less than half think the selection committee should pick her preferred candidate.
Other notes from our Senate District 23 poll:
-There has been a lot of debate over the years about whether Chapel Hill is ready for a big box store and the answer based on our polling appears to be yes. 56% of voters in the town say they'd like to see a Target open in southern Orange County (probably as part of the Obey Creek development) compared to only 15% opposed to the concept. Overall voters in Chatham and Orange Counties support a Target by a 48/21 margin.
-And finally 44% of voters in the two counties say they would support opening up an Olive Garden in downtown Carrboro to 35% who are opposed. Voters in Carrboro itself are not so keen on the thought of an Olive Garden (33/55) but Chapel Hillians (46/38), Hillsborough residents (39/26) , and especially Chatham County residents (53/27) all want to be able to go to the Paris of the Piedmont to get their breadstick fix instead of having to drive all the way to Cary or Burlington. As we've found in some previous polling Olive Garden is very polarizing with Republicans wanting one 78/5 but Democrats supporting it only 40/39.
Full results here