Trump leads GOP field in North Carolina

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest North Carolina poll finds that Donald Trump’s momentum just keeps on building. He’s the top choice of Republican primary voters in the state, getting 16% to 12% for Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, 11% for Mike Huckabee, 9% for Ben Carson and Marco Rubio, 7% for Rand Paul, 6% for Ted Cruz, 5% for Chris Christie, 4% for Carly Fiorina, 2% for Rick Perry, 1% each for Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Santorum, and less than 1% each for John Kasich and George Pataki. 

Trump’s favorability rating in North Carolina is 55/32, much higher than we were finding in national polls prior to his entry into the race. Trump’s really caught fire with voters on the far right- 66% of ‘very conservative’ voters see him favorably to only 24% with a negative view of him. Trump is polling particularly well with younger voters (29%) and men (20%).

Jeb Bush had been leading our previous few polls in North Carolina. But he continues to struggle with conservatives. Among ‘very conservative’ Republicans, only 37% see him favorably to 44% who have a negative opinion of him and only 7% of those voters support him for the nomination, putting him in 7th place in the GOP field. Bush’s overall 43/35 favorability is the second worst of any of the 10 candidates we measured that for, besting only Chris Christie’s 27/41 standing.

Mike Huckabee has the highest favorability rating of the GOP hopefuls in North Carolina at 65/19. Also with particularly good numbers are Marco Rubio at 57/16 and Ben Carson at 55/10. We’re not generally finding those folks at the top of the heap when it comes to preference for the nomination, but they do have a lot of goodwill that might help them move up later.

On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton still has a dominant lead, but things are tightening up some in the way that they are in other places across the country. Clinton’s at 55% to 20% for Bernie Sanders, 7% for Jim Webb, and 4% each for Lincoln Chafee and Martin O’Malley. Clinton’s dropped from 62% to this 55% standing over the last month, while Sanders has made an almost corresponding lead from 14% to 20%. Webb’s up 2 points from a month ago, and Chafee and O’Malley have stayed in place.

Clinton’s polling over 70% with African Americans, 60% with liberals and women, and 50% with moderates and voters in every age group. The 2 places she is doing a little weaker are with white voters where she leads Sanders 45/24 and men where her advantage is just 46/29.

All of the general election match ups in North Carolina are close with Clinton trailing 5 of the Republican hopefuls, leading 4 of them, and tied with one.

The strongest GOP hopefuls for the general election, leading Clinton by 4, are Mike Huckabee at 49/45 and Scott Walker at 47/43. Ben Carson leads her by 3 at 47/44, and Marco Rubio and Rand Paul each have 1 point leads at 47/46 and 46/45 respectively.

The weakest Republicans in the state are Donald Trump and Chris Christie who each trail Clinton by 3 points at 47/44 and 46/43 respectively. Also trailing Clinton are Jeb Bush at 45/43 and Ted Cruz at 47/46. Clinton’s tie comes with Carly Fiorina at 45%.

Clinton continues to be far stronger as a general election candidate than any other potential Democratic hopeful. Bernie Sanders would trail Scott Walker by 8 points at 43/35, Jim Webb by 13 points at 44/31, Lincoln Chafee by 14 points at 43/29, and Martin O’Malley by 16 points at 45/29.

Full results here

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