The field of Democratic and independent contenders for the presidency is becoming increasingly crowded as voters look ahead to the first presidential primary next year. At the same time, North Carolina is poised to retain its status as a battleground state, with Charlotte preparing to host the Republican National Convention in August 2020.
With that in mind, the Elon University Poll surveyed N.C. voters to gauge their impressions of the 12 men and women who have already launched a bid for the Democratic nomination or are expected to do so in the near future.
The poll, conducted between Feb. 20 and March 7, found that former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who made a strong bid for the nomination in 2016, are the most recognizable among the group, with 55 percent of voters having a positive impression of Mr. Biden and 44 percent of voters having a positive impression of Sen. Sanders. Many speculate that Mr. Biden could soon announce a plan to run.
When asked whether they would vote for President Donald Trump or the Democratic nominee if the election was held today, 48 percent of N.C. voters said they would vote for the Democrat while 36 percent say they will back the president, a Republican. Asked who they think is likely to win the election, 43 percent said the Democratic candidate will win while 36 percent said President Trump will prevail.
“Consistent with many others polls, we find President Trump maintains strong loyalty among registered Republicans in North Carolina,” said Jason Husser, poll director and associate professor of political science at Elon University. “However, unaffiliated voters are currently breaking toward a hypothetical Democratic candidate by a margin that could portend serious trouble for the president’s 2020 coalition. That said, I expect many of those voters will change their minds as the Democratic nominee moves from hypothetical to actual; the extent of this change will largely shape what we see in North Carolina over the next 20 months.”
Trump vs. the Democrat
The survey shed light on how President Trump would fare against an unnamed Democratic challenger in North Carolina. Asked if the election was held today whether they would vote for Trump or the Democratic nominee, 48 percent said the Democrat, 36 percent said Trump and the remaining 16 percent said someone else, they don’t know or it depends.
The poll found a deep split along party lines, with 77 percent of Republicans saying they would vote for the president and 10 percent of Democrats saying they planned to. Similarly, 84 percent of Democrats said they would vote for their party’s nominee while 7 percent would vote for Trump.
Independents appear to be leaning toward the Democratic nominee, whoever it may be. Twenty-nine percent said they would vote for President Trump and 45 percent saying they would vote for the Democrat.
President Trump was more likely to gain the votes of whites, males and rural voters while the Democratic candidate fared better with minority, female and urban voters.
Percent of N.C. voters with a positive impression of the candidate
Joe Biden – 54.4 percent
Bernie Sanders – 44 percent
Elizabeth Warren – 29.6 percent
Kamala Harris – 26.6 percent
Cory Booker – 24 percent
Michael Bloomberg – 22.8 percent
Beto O’Rourke – 19.2 percent
Kirsten Gillibrand – 14.3 percent
Amy Klobuchar – 13.6 percent
Julian Castro – 13.3 percent
Howard Schultz – 9.4 percent
Tulsi Gabbard – 5.6 percent