Bush leads GOP field in NC, Clinton up on most Republicans

| Tom Jensen

For the most part Jeb Bush has been struggling in PPP’s recent Republican primary polling across the country- one exception though is the South. Bush leads our North Carolina polling for the second time in a row. He’s at 19% to 12% each for Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker, 11% for Ted Cruz, 10% for Mike Huckabee, 9% for Ben Carson, 8% for Chris Christie, and 2% for Carly Fiorina. Bush also led our most recent surveys in Florida and South Carolina.

Bush has the same problems with the far right in North Carolina that he does everywhere else- only 35% of ‘very conservative’ voters have a favorable opinion of him to 44% with a negative one and he’s in 6th place in the horse race with that group. But Bush has a commanding lead with voters who identify themselves as being just ‘somewhat conservative’- with them he’s at 30% with the next closest Republican contender coming in at 13%. In 2012 the front runner with ‘very conservative’ voters shifted around a lot over the course of the cycle but Mitt Romney was generally leading the field with ‘somewhat conservative’ voters- who might be seen as the moderates at least within the confines of the GOP electorate- and that was enough to propel him to the nomination.

The candidates at the top of the heap in North Carolina in terms of their overall popularity are Mike Huckabee at 56% favorability and Marco Rubio at 55% favorability. We’ve found a similar story in a lot of places recently. Chris Christie continues to be very unpopular with only 29% of voters seeing him positively to 47% who have a negative view. All but two candidates are within 1 point of where we found their support in April- the exceptions are Scott Walker who dropped from 16% to 12% and Rand Paul who improved his support from 6% to 12%. Walker still leads with voters identifying as ‘very conservative’ despite his overall drop this month.

On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton continues to be as dominant as ever. 62% of Democrats say they want her to be the nominee to 14% for Bernie Sanders, 5% for Jim Webb, and 4% each for Lincoln Chafee and Martin O’Malley. Clinton polls over 80% with African Americans, over 60% with liberals, moderates, women, seniors, and younger voters, and polls over 50% with men. There’s not much sign of her position for the Democratic nomination weakening at all.

Clinton leads 7 out of 9 Republicans for the general election in North Carolina, generally by modest margins. The two exceptions are Rand Paul and Scott Walker, who she’s tied with at 44% and 45% respectively. Marco Rubio trails by only one point at 45/44, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee are each down by 2 at 46/44, Chris Christie has a 3 point deficit at 43/40, Carly Fiorina is down 6 at 46/40, and Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz each trail by 7 at 47/40 and 49/42 respectively. This continues a string of polls showing that the Presidential race in North Carolina is likely to be close once again next year, following up on the state’s being the second closest in the country in both 2008 and 2012.

Almost all the Presidential candidates have negative favorability ratings in the Tar Heel State- the only exceptions are Ben Carson and Scott Walker. All non-Clinton Democratic candidates trail by a wide margin in possible match ups with Walker- Bernie Sanders is down 10 at 43/33, Jim Webb trails by 11 at 42/31, Lincoln Chafee has a 13 point gap at 42/29, and Martin O’Malley is down 16 at 44/28. That’s a function of only 54-59% of Democrats voting for their second tier candidates because of their current unfamiliarity with them but at any rate it makes it clear that for all the hand wringing about Hillary Clinton she is still by far and away the Democrats’ strongest candidate.

Full results here

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