Clinton rising in North Carolina

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s new North Carolina poll finds Hillary Clinton with her largest lead in the state since May. 61% of Democrats in the state support Clinton to 24% for Bernie Sanders, 5% for Martin O’Malley, and 2% for Lawrence Lessig. A month ago Clinton led 51/23 in a Joe Biden-less field and these numbers suggest that pretty much everyone who’s made up their mind since then has gone into her camp.

North Carolina provides more evidence of Clinton’s favorability numbers improving over the last month. She’s gone up a net 9 points from +34 (63/29) in September to now +43 (67/24). Her lead is pretty steady across the board- she gets 74% with African Americans, 66% with seniors, 65% with liberals, 62% with women, 60% with men, 58% with moderates, and 57% with whites. The group where Sanders come closest is with younger voters, but even there Clinton still has a 50/34 advantage.

Donald Trump may be on the down swing with Republican primary voters some places, but not North Carolina. He leads the field in the state with 31% to 23% for Ben Carson and 11% for Marco Rubio. None of the other GOP hopefuls in the state even get more than 6%- Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina all tie for 4th place at that mark, followed by Mike Huckabee and John Kasich in a tie for 7th place at 5%. Chris Christie in 9th at 3% and Rand Paul and Rick Santorum tied for 10th at 2% round out the field of candidates with any measurable support. Kids table debate contestants Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki all register at less than 1%.

Trump’s support is actually up 5 points from a month ago in North Carolina when he led with 26%. His favorability comes in at 52/35, where it was basically an identical 53/36 in September. The only candidates besides Trump to see any increase in their support are Carson (21% to 23%) and Paul (0 to 2%) who each saw a 2 point gain. The folks headed in the wrong direction are Carly Fiorina, whose support’s been cut in half from 12% to 6%, and Ted Cruz who’s gone from 9% to 6%. Cruz has been on the upswing in some of our other recent polling so that could just be noise. Fiorina’s image has clearly taken a hit though- she’s gone from +35 (58/23) all the way down to +14 (45/31) on her favorability.

Even though Carson hasn’t overtaken Trump in North Carolina the way he has in Iowa, there are still some pretty big positives for him in the poll. He is by far the most popular of the Republican candidates with a 71/17 favorability rating. The next closest is Rubio who comes in at 55/23. Carson is also by far and away the most common second choice with 23% picking him on that front with Trump (11%) and Rubio (10%) also getting double digits. Carson gets 46% when you combine first and second choice to 42% for Trump, and Carson also leads Trump 51/40 when you match them head to head. 

Jeb Bush continues to really struggle. He has a 34/45 favorability rating and trails Trump 58/29 when they’re matched head to head. Bush led North Carolina with 19% when we polled the state in late May and had a 46/31 favorability at that time.

In addition to her improved numbers in the primary, Hillary Clinton’s doing an average of 4 points better in general election match ups against Republicans in North Carolina than she was a month ago. It’s still not a great picture for her there- she trails 6 out of 8 of the GOP hopefuls we tested- but the margins are at least closer than they were a month ago.

The 2 Republicans Clinton leads are Jeb Bush (46/43, after trailing 46/41 last month) and John Kasich (44/42, after trailing 44/40 last month). The strongest Republicans against Clinton all lead her by 6- Ben Carson at 49/43 (but he was up 51/41 last month), Marco Rubio at 48/42 (but he was up 50/40 last month), and Donald Trump at 48/42 (he was up 47/42 last month, so this is the one she hasn’t tightened.) Rounding out the field Clinton trails Mike Huckabee 48/44 (compared to 48/41 a month ago), Carly Fiorina (45/43, compared to 48/41 a month ago), and Ted Cruz (46/45, compared to 46/43 a month ago.)

Bernie Sanders does an average of about 5 points worse than Clinton in head to head match ups against the same roster of Republicans. He trails Ted Cruz 45/41, Jeb Bush 46/40, Donald Trump 48/41, and Ben Carson 48/37.

There’s been a lot of talk about Jim Webb running as an independent for President. We tested him against Clinton and Trump and found him getting 8%. Interestingly he actually hurts Trump more than Clinton- among people who say they’d vote for Webb, 39% support Trump head to head against Clinton to only 22% who support her. And 40% are Republicans to 26% who are Democrats. (To put Webb’s 8% in perspective, Deez Nuts got 9% as an independent in North Carolina in August.)

Full results here

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