WRAL News poll: Presidential race still tight in NC

Posted October 2, 2012

— With five weeks until the election, North Carolina remains a fierce battleground for Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to a WRAL News poll released Tuesday.

SurveyUSA polled 573 likely voters statewide between Saturday and Monday and found that 49 percent would vote for Obama and 47 percent for Romney if the election were held now. The remaining 4 percent were either undecided or voting for another candidate.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points, meaning the president and the former Massachusetts governor are in a virtual dead heat for North Carolina's 15 electoral votes.

The race has been tight for months. A WRAL News poll in May showed Romney ahead of Obama 45 to 44 percent.

"We've known since 2008 that North Carolina was going to be very close," said David McLennan, a political science professor at William Peace University in Raleigh. "It's really going to be an election about turnout. Can the president get his base voters out? Can Romney get his voters out?"

Still, there have been notable shifts in support among various North Carolina demographic groups in the last five months.

Latino voters are now squarely in Obama's camp, with nearly three-fourths of those surveyed backing the president. In May, Romney held almost a 2-1 lead among North Carolina's growing population of Latino voters.

Obama also picked up support among younger voters, a key segment of his victory in 2008. In May, he led Romney by 48 to 36 percent among voters aged 18 to 34. Now, that gap has widened to 58 to 35 percent.

Meanwhile, Romney has solidified support among older voters. He now leads the president 55 to 42 percent among voters age 50 or older, compared with a 48 to 43 percent lead in May.

WRAL News Poll image Presidential election in NC could pivot on turnout

A gender gap still exists, but Obama has narrowed his deficit among male voters.

In May, Romney was preferred by male voters by a 51 to 38 percent margin, while Obama was favored by female voters by 50 to 40 percent. Now, Romney's edge among male voters is down to 51 to 44 percent, while Obama's lead among female voters is 53 to 44 percent.

In the latest poll, Romney holds a slight lead among the coveted middle-class voters, 50 to 45 percent among those with annual incomes of $40,000 to $80,000. Meanwhile, the candidates are tied among wealthier voters, while Obama has a 13-point lead among lower-income voters.

The candidates are splitting independent voters – the poll shows Romney with a 45 to 43 percent lead – and 15 percent of Democrats said they won't support the president's re-election. Only 6 percent of Republican voters said they would vote for Obama.

Romney, a Mormon, also captures more than two-thirds of the evangelical Christian vote statewide, according to the poll. McLennan said that's more of a vote against Obama than for Romney.

As in 2008, Democrats hold a sizable edge among early voters, but the GOP is making a concerted effort not to fall too far behind before Election Day. Conservative groups have pushed for absentee votes and plan get-out-the-vote efforts once early voting starts in a couple of weeks.

According to the poll, Obama has a 20-point lead among people who plan to cast early ballots. They accounted for 43 percent of those surveyed. Romney holds a 53 to 41 percent lead among those planning to vote on Election Day – 48 percent of those surveyed – and a 58 to 39 percent lead among the small number of people who will cast absentee ballots.


This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • nwiley1125 Oct 8, 4:55 p.m.

    As a member of being rasied with Christian values, being my brother's keeper and the 100% that pays taxes, I will be voting for Obama!

  • karbattle1 Oct 8, 4:14 p.m.

    As a member of the 53% of American households that pay federal income taxes, I will be voting for Romney in November.

  • nwiley1125 Oct 8, 4:12 p.m.

    This state will realize that after all the republicans has done to impede the POTUS, things have continued to improve. Our Christian GOD has placed a shield of protection around this man! Some people in this "godly state" has not realize it yet!

  • trueblue0100 Oct 3, 3:37 p.m.

    trueblue0100.....I knew the smartest democrat wasn't in the White House.....ripetomatoes

    I'm certainly not the smartest, but I do pride myself on history and good old-fashioned common sense.

  • trueblue0100 Oct 3, 3:33 p.m.

    Fact: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are both liars who bend the facts. People 65 and old better wise up. As I said before, Romney and Ryan will see to it that your 35-40 year investment in SS and Medicare will cease to exist as you know it and you will be paying an additonal $4,000 to $6,000 more than you are currently paying. i am one who has paid into both systems and I want to see a return for my investment. After all, that's what was promised when I started paying into the systems.

  • ripetomatoes Oct 3, 3:27 p.m.


    I knew the smartest democrat wasn't in the White House.

  • trueblue0100 Oct 3, 3:23 p.m.

    Umm True Blue, you may want to have a lttle more fun with the facts. Obama's party the Democrats held both houses of congress his 1st two years, and he did not get much done then either, other than the largest tax hike in history, (according to the Supreme Court). Better known as Obamacare which the majority of the electorate did not want.....moveyextraz

    I'm not discounting the first 2 years, but a lot of the time the old Jesse filibuster was at work. Check the record. I also take into account the FIRST thing that came out the Republican's mouths after the 2010 mid-terms. They promised to do everything that they could to make the president was a one-term president and that's exactly what they've done.

    Romneycare and Obamacare are essentially the same thing and the people of Massachuetss didn't complain. The problems started with Republican lies about the plan and while it may be called a tax hike, I don't see it that way. I perfer to look at all of those it has & will help.

  • trueblue0100 Oct 3, 3:03 p.m.

    Page 5(Partial reprint and the kicker):

    In other words, the poor are least likely to pay federal income taxes, but many middle-class families are also exempt. Smaller but significant numbers of the higher-income earners are also exempt: The same data shows that in 2011, 78,000 tax filers with incomes between $211,000 and $533,000 paid no income taxes; 24,000 households with incomes of $533,000 to $2.2 million paid no income taxes, and 3,000 tax filers with incomes above $2.2 million paid no income taxes.

    These are the same people who are invited to $50,000 a plate dinners. How many of you attended one?

  • trueblue0100 Oct 3, 3:00 p.m.

    Page 4:

    Overall, according to the Tax Policy Center, "of the 38 million tax units made nontaxable by the addition of tax expenditures, 44 percent are moved off the tax rolls by elderly tax benefits and another 30 percent by credits for children and the working poor."
    Moreover, only 18.1 percent of American households paid neither federal income taxes nor payroll taxes in 2011, says the Tax Policy Center. Of that 18.1 percent, 10.3 percent were elderly and 6.9 percent were non-elderly households earning less than $20,000 year, which include low-income families and students. About one in 20 is non-elderly with income over $20,000.
    At least one of the demographics that is less likely to pay income taxes (or income and payroll taxes) tends to vote Republican: In 2008, voters 65 and over voted for Republican nominee John McCain over President Obama 53 percent to 45 percent, an eight-point margin. The latest CBS News/New York Times poll also shows Romney winning the support of these voters

  • trueblue0100 Oct 3, 2:59 p.m.

    Page 3:

    In order to assess whether or not, as Romney claims, these non-income tax payers "will vote for the president no matter what," it's helpful to look at a breakdown of who they are. According to 2011 data from the Tax Policy Center, more than half of the filing units not paying income taxes are those with incomes less than $16,812 per year. Nearly a third, 29.2 percent of those paying no income taxes are tax filers earning between $16,812 and $33,542, and 12.8 percent are those with incomes between $33,542 and $59,486. In other words, the poor are least likely to pay federal income taxes, but many middle-class families are also exempt. Smaller but significant numbers of the higher-income earners are also exempt: The same data shows that in 2011, 78,000 tax filers with incomes between $211,000 and $533,000 paid no income taxes; 24,000 households with incomes of $533,000 to $2.2 million paid no income taxes, and 3,000 tax filers with incomes above $2.2 million paid no income taxe