Raleigh, N.C. — Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democrat Roy Cooper appear to be headed for their much-anticipated battle for North Carolina's chief executive in November, according to a WRAL News poll released Tuesday.
SurveyUSA polled 1,555 likely voters statewide – almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats – between Friday and Monday to gauge opinions leading up to the March 15 primary. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
McCrory easily outdistances his two primary opponents, former state Rep. Robert Brawley of Iredell County and Randleman businessman Charles Moss, neither of whom registered support in double digits among likely GOP voters. McCrory dominates in every demographic, garnering at least 50 percent support – and often registering in the 60 or 70 percent range – across all age groups, gender, income or education level and political ideology.
Still, McCrory's approval statewide remains under water, with 40 percent approving of his job performance and 46 percent giving him a thumbs down, according to the poll. He has clear problems with women, who disapprove of him by a 49-36 percent margin, and with minorities and independents, where his approval rating is 18 points lower than the disapproval. Surprisingly, the former Charlotte mayor has his lowest approval rating of any region in the state in the Queen City.
On the Democratic side, Cooper, who has served as attorney general for the last 15 years, topped Durham lawyer Ken Spaulding 51 percent to 19 percent, but 30 percent of the likely Democratic voters said they remain undecided. Like McCrory, Cooper has decisive leads across the spectrum of ages, political ideology, education, income, race and gender.
Unlike McCrory, Cooper's job approval is 18 points above water, 46 percent to 28 percent, with 27 percent unsure. He is strongest among older voters and blacks, but even those who identified themselves as Republicans or conservatives approved of his work as attorney general more than they disliked it, according to the poll. Voters who identified themselves as pro-life or evangelical also gave Cooper relatively high marks, even though he has spoken out in recent years against legislation prohibiting same-sex marriage and extending the waiting period for an abortion.