WRAL poll: McCrory, Cooper in virtual tie

Posted November 1, 2016

Gov. Pat McCrory, left, and Attorney General Roy Cooper debate the issues in the gubernatorial campaign on Oct. 11, 2016.

— The race between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper has tightened in recent weeks, and the two men are in a virtual tie days out from the election, according to the results of an exclusive WRAL News poll released Tuesday.

SurveyUSA polled 659 people statewide who have already cast their ballots or are likely to vote between Friday and Monday and found the Cooper leads McCrory 48 to 47 percent. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

In a WRAL News poll conducted three weeks ago, Cooper held a 48 to 44 percent advantage.

McCrory appears to have benefited from his high profile in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, and 39 percent of respondents rated his handling of the disaster preparation and recovery effort as excellent, with another 31 percent said his efforts were good. Only 6 percent said he did a poor job of responding to the storm.

At 45 percent, the governor's approval rating is the highest it's been in the four WRAL News polls conducted this year, and it's only 1 point below his disapproval rating, which is the closest he's come in the four polls to breaking even.

Meanwhile, Cooper's approval rating remains far ahead of his disapprovals, 47 to 33 percent, although 20 percent are still undecided about his performance as attorney general.

The WRAL News poll also asked about three issues that have been at the forefront of the gubernatorial campaign: the economy, education funding and House Bill 2, the state's controversial law on gay and transgender rights.

WRAL News Poll image Highlights of WRAL News poll

About three-fifths of respondents said each of the issues factors strongly into their choice for governor, while another 30 percent said the economy and school funding influence their vote "somewhat." Only 20 percent of respondents said House Bill 2 would "somewhat" affect their vote.

McCrory has campaigned heavily on the state's improved economy, which he's dubbed the "Carolina Comeback," but he and Cooper are virtually tied among voters who say the economy plays a large or some role in their choice for governor.

Cooper has pressed the governor on North Carolina's low national ranking in per-student spending and average teacher salary, and about three-quarters of Cooper supporters said education funding strongly influences their vote, compared with only 42 percent of McCrory supporters.

Cooper also has criticized McCrory repeatedly over House Bill 2. Sixty-eight percent of Cooper supporters and 52 percent of McCrory supporters said the law would have a strong influence on their vote for governor.

Breaking down the overall results, the gender gap has widened in recent weeks. McCrory's lead among men has grown from 5 to 12 points, while Cooper's lead among women has increased from 12 to 14 points. Cooper has moved ahead among voters ages 18 to 49, while McCrory has overtaken his opponent among voters 50 and older.

McCrory has narrowed the gap in metro areas across the state while maintaining a 17-point edge among rural voters. In early October, Cooper held a 62 to 29 percent advantage among urban voters, but that has dwindled to 58 to 39 percent. Among suburban voters, his lead has dropped from 12 to 6 points.

Mixed results in down-ballot races

Incumbent Republican Dan Forest leads Democratic challenger Linda Coleman in the race for lieutenant governor 49 to 42 percent.

Former Democratic Sen. Josh Stein of Wake County leads Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson, 47 to 43 percent in the race for attorney general.


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  • Rick Nolte Nov 3, 2016
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    Sure sounds like they made it a point to only go to certain neighborhoods. With only six percent showing he did a poor job and how many are without power a month after?

  • George Brown Nov 3, 2016
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    Praise the Lord, and pass the rose coloured glasses? Betcha.

  • George Brown Nov 3, 2016
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    What an environment each of these candidates running for dreg of the year. God help us.

  • Betty Jones Nov 2, 2016
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  • Betty Jones Nov 2, 2016
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    (ran outta space...)
    Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, said the legislation would wipe out ordinances in Wake, Durham, Orange, Buncombe and Mecklenburg counties and in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Asheville and Boone that protect LBGT residents.
    "Once again, this General Assembly is taking on local governments for making strides to improve the lives of North Carolinians," Sgro said in a statement.

    Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, said local ordinances usually have popular support and are seen by cities and counties as a way to demonstrate that they are inclusive in order to compete for new business and jobs.
    "The General Assembly has no business interfering in local decisions to protect residents from discrimination,” Preston said in a statement. “This shameful bill would remove that local control and hurt our state’s reputation by sending a message that North Carolina sanctions intolerance and discrimina

  • Betty Jones Nov 2, 2016
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    "As written, the compromise bill would preclude cities or counties from adopting ordinances related to wage levels, leave or other benefits, which would outlaw the push for "living wage" rules in cities such as Durham, Chapel Hill and Asheville."
    "Another provision of the conference report would prevent cities or counties from "mandat(ing) or prohibit(ing) the provision of goods, services, or accommodation to any member of the public by nongovernmental businesses."

    Similar restrictions elsewhere have come as "religious freedom" rules giving businesses where the owners or employees object to same-sex marriage the right to refuse service to gay couples. Although such bills were filed in North Carolina this spring, they have sat untouched in committees since April, when legislative leaders said they wouldn't push such restrictions."
    "Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, said the legislation would wipe out ordinances in Wake, Durham, Orange, Buncombe and Mecklenburg counties."

  • Betty Jones Nov 2, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Not true... The GOP NCGA began HB2 back in 2015: From WRAL article Sept. 29, 2015 By Matthew Burns, Mark Binker and Laura Leslie... "The House voted 66-47 to send Senate Bill 279 back to the House Rules Committee, but it could return to the House floor before lawmakers wrap up their 2015 session." The NC GOP and McCoalAsh OWN it. Vote them out next week! ;-)

  • Charlie Watkins Nov 2, 2016
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    Gov McCrory has done a good job and I hope he wins.

  • Letha Book Nov 2, 2016
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    The political stunt the democrats pulled with the charlotte ordinance followed with all the hype is enough for me to vote republican.

  • Sean Chen Nov 1, 2016
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    Roy Cooper's biggest donor is Goldman Sachs.

    What has Cooper promised them to deserve such generous financial backing?

    Why is Roy's 2nd largest contributor to his campaign from California? What has he promised THEM?

    Cooper as the Attorney General of NC actively urged and pushed businesses and entities to boycott our state over HB2.

    Why would Cooper hurt our state economically?

    Because it helps him pursue his political ambitions… even if it throws North Carolinians under the bus.

    McCrory isn't great, but at least he's working FOR NC and not AGAINST us the way Roy Cooper has been.

    What the heck did he promise Goldman Sachs for such huge campaign contributions?