Way back on July 8th PPP released a North Carolina poll that was the first survey to find Donald Trump leading the Republican race anywhere in the country. 8 months later our final poll of the GOP race finds Trump primed to book end that first poll with a victory in the Tar Heel State. Trump is polling at 44% to 33% for Ted Cruz, 11% for John Kasich, and 7% for Marco Rubio.
Compared to a month ago Trump's support is up 15 points and Cruz's is up 14 points. Kasich's remained in place, and Rubio has seen his support collapse 9 points. Trump appears to already be building up a lead among early voters- he's at 46% to 38% for Cruz, 11% for Kasich, and 4% for Rubio. Among those planning to vote on election day Trump gets 43% to 32% for Cruz, 11% for Kasich, and 8% for Rubio.
If there's a path to #NeverTrump in North Carolina it's Kasich and Rubio voters uniting around Cruz. Trump's lead over Cruz declines to 49/43 when the two are matched head to head because Rubio voters overwhelmingly move to Cruz in that scenario (70/20) and Kasich voters move to Cruz as well, although by a pretty narrow 39/34 margin.
One big thing Trump has going for him is that he has the most committed supporters. 89% of Trump voters say they'll definitely cast their ballots for him, compared to 84% of Cruz, 68% of Rubio, and 65% of Kasich supporters who say the same for their candidate. Cruz needs to hope those Rubio and Kasich voters open to changing their minds gravitate toward him if he's going to have a chance to win the state.
Interestingly Kasich is now the most broadly popular candidate in North Carolina, with a 60/23 favorability rating. Trump's next at 56/38, followed by Cruz at 51/35, and continuing the recent trend Rubio is now under water in his image with North Carolina Republicans as just 39% see him favorably to 48% who have a negative opinion.
Other notes from North Carolina:
Democratic primary voters in North Carolina support the bond 67/18, while Republicans are much more evenly divided on it with 47% in support and 43% opposed. That should still add up to its passing with about 60% of the vote unless undecideds move against it en masse.
-The Senate Race:
The US Senate race will be a contest between Richard Burr on the Republican side and Deborah Ross on the Democratic side- they both have overwhelming leads in their primaries. One interesting- and surprising thing- to watch for on Tuesday night though might be who wins their primary by more. Right now we find Ross leading hers by 32 points with 40% to 8% each for Ernest Reeves and Chris Rey, and 4% for Kevin Griffin. It may be more instructive to look at the numbers among those who have already voted- Ross is at 50% to 17% for Rey, 8% for Reeves, and 5% for Griffin, suggesting Rey is likely to end up in second place. Burr- even as a two term incumbent- actually has a smaller lead than Ross in his primary. He's up by 28 points with 48% to 20% for Greg Brannon, 4% for Paul Wright, and 3% for Larry Holmquist.
-The Governor's Race:
The primary contests on both the Republican and Democratic sides never really became contests. Pat McCrory's getting 70% to 7% for Charles Kenneth Moss, and 6% for Robert Brawley. Roy Cooper leads Ken Spaulding 53/17 and has an even wider 68/22 lead banked among early voters. The long anticipated McCrory/Cooper contest will be a real thing on Wednesday, and we've found them trading small leads in the polls on a month to month basis ever since we started looking at it. This is likely to be the premier Governor's race in the country this year.
-The Race for Attorney General
There are still a lot of voters undecided in both party's primaries for Attorney General- 40% for the Republicans, 43% for the Democrats. Things look very up in the air on the Republican side- Jim O'Neill has a slim lead over Buck Newton at 33/27 and the numbers among voters who have already cast their ballots don't clarify things much either- O'Neill received 44%, Newton received 37%, and 19% either didn't vote in that contest or have already forgotten who they voted for. On the Democratic side Josh Stein leads Marcus Williams by a relatively close 33/23 spread, but among those who have already voted his lead is wider at 51/29 which suggests people are moving toward him once they study the candidates more carefully.
-Other Races on the Democratic Side