Etheridge leading Democratic primary field in poll
Posted February 8, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Former Congressman Bob Etheridge is the early leader among Democrats seeking the nomination for governor, although more than a third of likely voters remain undecided, according to polls released Wednesday.
Public Policy Polling surveyed 400 Democratic voters over the weekend and found that 33 to 41 percent haven't made up their minds about who they will support in the May 8 primary.
Etheridge, who entered the face last week, has built a lead mostly on name recognition in eastern North Carolina, according to PPP.
Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and Orange County Rep. Bill Faison are the only other declared candidates in the Democratic primary. Wake County Sen. Dan Blue, 13th District Congressman Brad Miller, 7th District Congressman Mike McIntyre and former State Treasurer Richard Moore are still weighing runs.
If all seven candidates competed in the primary, Etheridge right now would have a 21-13 percent margin over Blue, with Dalton garnering 10 percent and the rest of the field in single digits, according to the poll. Among the three declared candidates, Etheridge leads Dalton by a 30-24 percent margin, with Faison at 6 percent.
Miller and Blue would shake up the current field the most, the poll shows, although each would start out in third place, with 11 percent support among respondents. If either entered the race and made it a four-man field, Etheridge would lead Dalton by a 24-20 percent margin, the poll shows.
Etheridge's early success is driven by regional strength in the Triangle and eastern North Carolina, according to the poll. Among the three current candidates, he leads Dalton 42-20 percent in the Triangle, 35-16 percent in southeastern North Carolina and 34-12 percent in northeastern North Carolina.
None of the candidates has extensive name recognition. Etheridge is the best known at 50 percent, followed by Miller and Dalton at 41 percent, Blue and Moore at 40 percent, McIntyre at 31 percent and Faison at 29 percent.
"The state of the race could change quite a bit as voters become more familiar with the candidates," PPP Director Tom Jensen said. "Etheridge is the early favorite to the extent there is one, but a lot can change in the next three months."