Local Politics

WRAL News Poll: McCain, Obama still close in N.C.

Posted July 17, 2008 9:18 p.m. EDT
Updated July 17, 2008 10:06 p.m. EDT

— Republican John McCain leads Democrat Barack Obama by three percentage points in the presidential race in North Carolina, according to a new WRAL News poll released Thursday.

A survey of 500 likely voters Tuesday by polling firm Rasmussen Reports shows McCain has 45 percent of the vote and Obama has 43 percent. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

When “leaners” are included, McCain leads 48 percent to 45 percent.

Last month, McCain led by two points and in May by three points. In April, the candidates were tied at 47 percent each.

North Carolina voters have favored Republican candidates in nine out of the last 10 presidential elections. In 2004, George W. Bush won the state 56 percent to 44 percent.

In the most recent poll, 33 percent of the state’s voters found Bush is doing a good or excellent job and 48 percent said he is doing a poor job.

Eight-five percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Democrats in the state support McCain. Obama is backed by 69 percent of Democrats and 7 percent of Republicans. Among unaffiliated voters, Obama leads 43 percent to McCain’s 33 percent.

Among female voters, Obama leads McCain 44 percent to 42 percent. McCain leads 48 percent to 39 percent among men.

Each candidate’s favorability ratings improved since last month. Fifty-seven percent of voters viewed McCain favorably, which is an increase of two points from June. McCain is viewed unfavorably by 40 percent – down two points from last month. Twenty-three percent of voters found McCain very favorable, while 16 percent found him very unfavorable.

Obama is viewed favorably by 52 percent of voters, an increase of three points, and unfavorably by 45 percent, which is down five points. Thirty-one percent had a very favorable view of Obama, while 29 percent found him very unfavorable.

Nationally, the poll found Obama leading McCain 44 percent to 42 percent.

In the poll, North Carolina voters identified the economy as the most important issue of the upcoming election. National security was their second concern.

Nationwide, the poll found voters feel high gas and oil prices to be the biggest threat to the economy. Sixty percent of North Carolina voters said they support the idea of drilling offshore oil wells. Fifty-five percent said they believe the practice would reduce the price of gas. Fifty-two percent said the U.S. should allow drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. Thirty-six percent oppose the idea.

North Carolina voters were against lowering the national speed limit to 55 mph. Fifty-seven percent opposed the idea, and 60 percent said they do not think the law would reduce gas prices.

Forty-five percent of voters in the state believe it is more important to reduce gas prices than to protect the environment. Thirty-nine percent favored protecting the environment over reducing gas prices.