Local Politics

WRAL News poll: Santorum leads GOP field in NC

Posted March 20, 2012
Updated March 21, 2012

— With a month until early voting begins in North Carolina, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is leading the field in the state's Republican presidential primary, according to a new WRAL News poll.

SurveyUSA polled 403 likely Republican voters between last Friday and Tuesday and found that Santorum leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 34 to 26 percent.

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 18 percent support in the poll, while Congressman Ron Paul of Texas had 10 percent. Eleven percent of GOP voters in the state remain undecided.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Santorum has a sizable lead among female voters, 38 to 24 percent over Romney, while his lead among male voters is within the margin of error, at 31 to 28 percent, according to the poll.

David McLennan, a political science professor at William Peace University in Raleigh, said he was surprised by Santorum's strong showing with women, noting he has been out of favor among independent female voters in other states.

Romney's strength is among both young and older voters, leading Santorum 28 to 22 percent among voters 34 and younger and 37 to 31 percent among voters 65 and older, according to the poll. Santorum leads handily among others, however, grabbing 41 percent of support among voters aged 35 to 49 and 39 percent among those 50 to 64.

Santorum has built his campaign on being a conservative alternative to both Romney and President Barack Obama, so it's not surprising that he leads Romney 44 to 17 percent among North Carolina voters who identify themselves as "very conservative." Gingrich finished second among that group with 23 percent support.

Among voters who identify themselves simply as "conservative," however, the race is a virtual dead heat, with Santorum holding a 32 to 31 percent lead over Romney. Romney leads 34 to 27 percent among moderate Republican voters, according to the poll.

McLennan noted that "very conservative" voters accounted for only a third of those polled, and he said the tight race with Romney among other voters doesn't bode well for Santorum, especially once groups affiliated with Romney start targeting the former senator in negative ads.

Tea party members are fairly evenly divided, with Romney leading both Santorum and Gingrich by 28 to 24 percent, with Paul pulling in 22 percent support.

Santorum holds strong leads in metro areas statewide, with at least 35 percent support in the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte to no more than 27 percent in those areas for Romney. In rural areas, Romney has 31 percent support, with Santorum and Gingrich in a virtual dead heat at 23 and 22 percent, respectively.

North Carolina will hold its primary May 8. Early voting starts April 19.


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  • aclemmons77 Mar 22, 2012

    I hope Santorum gets the GOP nomination, and pairs up with Sarah Palin for "Santorum / Palin 2012" Their campaign slogan should be “Jesus Is American and so can I”

  • jaredg Mar 22, 2012

    "Santorum is the only choice left for those of us who are true conservatives"

    the true can not be any more the opposite. Santorum is a big spending politician who wants government to police your morals. Even vowing to regulate the internet. This flies in the face of TRUE Conservative values of smaller government and individual liberty. Santorum is the opposite of a true conservative wrapped in the cloak of Christianity. His entire campaign is based on social issues. We need someone to create jobs, not limit internet pornagraphy!!

  • elcid liked Ike Mar 21, 2012

    "but where does the power come from to pay an individuals debt?"

    The doctor accepts the patient having already been advised that Medicare will be filed, so in essence the debt is between Medicare and the doctor. The patient owes the residual.

    Realistically, since the 1930s, the courts have expanded general welfare to the point that it has become whatever beneficial thing Congress wants to spend money on. There are few limits.

  • ykm Mar 21, 2012

    A medicare payment to a doctor is in reality the federal government paying an individuals debt. The individual initiates the debt with an office visit. The doctor submits the patients debt to medicare and the federal government pays the debt. An individual debt. I agree the constitution states the federal government has the power to tax, but where does the power come from to pay an individuals debt?

  • elcid liked Ike Mar 21, 2012

    "k I'll give two examples of what I feel the gov does that is unconstitutional. Medicare and S/S. Since we are being taxed, within the powers of, but the debt is not the governments debt it's a personal debt. So does the government have powers to pay individual debt?"

    Individual debt? Expound further please?

  • ykm Mar 21, 2012

    k I'll give two examples of what I feel the gov does that is unconstitutional. Medicare and S/S. Since we are being taxed, within the powers of, but the debt is not the governments debt it's a personal debt. So does the government have powers to pay individual debt?

  • elcid liked Ike Mar 21, 2012

    "Modern revisionist nonsense! As I said, you are a hopeless case."

    Really? I just repeated Alexander Hamilton's interpretation of the clause. Hardly what I would consider to be modern revisionism.

    You need to accept that the concept of strong states governed by a weak central government was always doomed to failure. We tried that construction under the Articles of Confederation and it failed then, in dramatic fashion. The only path to a strong, unified nation was weak states governed by a strong central government. Not to have gone that route would have given us the pre-unification German princely states, with all of their squabbling and bickering (and weakness).

    From the moment that the Constitution was ratified, the death knell for states rights had been sounded. It took a while, and a war, to eventually kill the concept, but it is indeed dead. Engaging in nostalgia won't change that.

  • elcid liked Ike Mar 21, 2012

    "And by the way, the general welfare clause is NOT an enumerated power"

    Really? Why isn't it? Let's consider the wording of the clause:

    "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence[note 1] and general Welfare of the United States"

    That is a direct statement. Congress has the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises. It may use that power to pay debts, to provide for the common defense and to provide for the general welfare. What part of the statement do you believe to be vague?

    Are you suggesting that Congress has no power to collect taxes in order to pay governmental debts? That it has no direct power to collect taxes to provide for defense?

    That's a novel interpretation.

  • elcid liked Ike Mar 21, 2012

    "I have given you examples."

    No, you have given me talking points.

    "I actually have a job and do not have time to prepare a formal academic paper for you."

    Yet you somehow do have the time to compose lengthy diatribes complaining about constitutional nullification. Sorry, I'm not buying it.

    "You stike me as a scoffer anyway so attempting to educate you would be a waste of my times and yours."

    No, that would be constitutional law professor who suspects (and was trying to prove) that despite all your pontificating about the constitution, you can't actually discuss it intelligently.

  • brentf777 Mar 21, 2012

    "As a result, the 10th Amendment does not amend the necessary and proper clause, and the federal government is not limited to delineated powers."

    Modern revisionist nonsense! As I said, you are a hopeless case.