Local Politics

WRAL Poll: Few Know 3 of 4 GOP Gubernatorial Candidates

Posted January 31, 2008 6:20 p.m. EST
Updated January 31, 2008 9:24 p.m. EST

WRAL News Poll image

— With fewer than 100 days until North Carolina's May 6 primary, three of the four Republican candidates for governor still need to build their name recognition, according to a WRAL News poll.

In a survey of 500 likely voters conducted Tuesday by polling firm Rasmussen Reports, only Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory's name registered with a majority of people asked about GOP candidates. McCrory entered the race two weeks ago, but 36 percent of respondents had a favorable impression about him while another 19 percent had a negative impression.

Meanwhile, 63 percent of those surveyed said they had never heard of or weren't sure they knew the name of Salisbury attorney Bill Graham, even though he led a very public campaign to lower the state's gas tax a few years ago.

Seventy-two percent weren't sure they knew Robert Orr's name, despite his two successful statewide campaigns for a seat on the Supreme Court, and 74 percent didn't recognize the name of longtime state Sen. Fred Smith of Johnston County, who has run an extensive television advertising campaign in recent months.

The two Democratic front-runners, Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and State Treasurer Richard Moore, have name recognition on a par with McCrory. Both registered favorable impressions among 35 percent of those surveyed. Twelve percent said they had an unfavorable impression of Moore, and 27 percent said that of Perdue.

In possible head-to-head match-ups, McCrory is in virtual dead heats with Moore or Perdue. Moore's 4 percentage point lead and Perdue's 3-point lead are both within the poll's 4.5-point margin of error.

Those surveyed ranked the state economy as the most pressing issue in the upcoming election, followed closely by illegal immigration and education. Government ethics, growth, the drought and transportation trail behind in voters' minds as key issues in the gubernatorial campaign, according to the poll.

In other poll results, voters give President George W. Bush a 37 percent approval rating, down from 42 percent in December. Another 47 percent rated his performance as poor, up from 39 percent last month.

Gov. Mike Easley scored stronger among North Carolina voters, with a 47 percent approval rating – about the same as last month.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole gets the best marks, with a 56 percent favorable rating among those surveyed and a 35 percent unfavorable rating.