Democrats Leading Big in NC Early Voting

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest North Carolina poll finds that Democrats are running up large leads already during early voting. Among those who say they’ve already voted, 63% say they cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton to only 37% for Donald Trump. Interestingly, less than half of a percent say they voted for Gary Johnson, which could be a sign that he won’t end up getting that much more support than a normal third party candidate. The big Democratic advantage holds down ballot as well. Roy Cooper leads Pat McCrory 61-33 for Governor among those who have already voted, with Libertarian Lon Cecil at 1%. And Deborah Ross leads Richard Burr 52-34 for Senate, with Libertarian Sean Haugh at 7% among those who say they have already cast their ballots.

Overall Hillary Clinton maintains a modest advantage in North Carolina with 47% to 44% for Donald Trump, and Gary Johnson at 4%. In a head to head Clinton’s lead remains steady at 3 points at 49/46. There’s been an interesting shift in the candidates’ favorability ratings since the debates. When we polled North Carolina a month ago, each hopeful had an identical 40/55 favorability rating. Since then Clinton’s net favorability has improved by 6 points from that -15 standing to now -9 with 43% of voters seeing her positively and 52% negatively. Even with all the revelations of the last month Trump has only gotten slightly more unpopular, going from that 40/55 standing to 39/56. Clinton’s improved standing over the last month both in North Carolina and nationally may have more to do with voters warming to her than cooling to Trump.

There’s little that’s better for a Governor’s approval ratings than a Hurricane that voters perceive them to have handled well. When we polled Florida last week in the wake of Hurricane Matthew we found Rick Scott with the most positive ratings we’d ever found for him, with 45% of voters approving of him to 38% who disapprove. It’s a similar story in North Carolina. We’d found Pat McCrory with a negative approval rating every single month since July 2013 until now- 45% of voters give him good marks to 43% who disapprove. He’s still trailing for reelection- Roy Cooper gets 46% to 44% for McCrory and 3% for Lon Cecil. But this race looks more competitive now than it did a month ago when McCrory’s greatest public visibility was coming due to HB2 rather than the natural disaster.

The Senate race remains very close with Richard Burr at 42% to 41% for Deborah Ross, and 6% for Sean Haugh. The negativity in that race is impacting both candidates’ image with the voters. Only 33% of voters approve of the job Burr is doing, to 41% who disapprove. And Ross’ favorability rating comes in at an identical 33/41 spread. One positive sign for Ross is that the undecided voters in her race support both Clinton and Cooper by 13 points, so if she can reach them in the next couple weeks it might put her over the top.

The other key races in North Carolina are all within 5 points as well. Republican Dan Forest leads Linda Coleman for reelection as Lieutenant Governor, 41-37. In the open seat for Attorney General, Democrat Josh Stein leads opponent Buck Newton 44-39. And in the Treasurer’s race Democrat Dan Blue III leads Dale Folwell 39-37. In races that are so close with so many voters still undecided, these could all end up going either way.

Democrats lead the generic legislative ballot 46-42, which should translate to making some decent gains in seats, quite possibly enough to push Republicans below a veto proof majority in the House. 

Full results here

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