Local Politics

Poll: N.C. favors McCain

Posted September 19, 2008 11:46 a.m. EDT
Updated September 19, 2008 4:21 p.m. EDT

— Republican presidential nominee John McCain has a much more favorable image among North Carolina residents than his Democratic rival Barack Obama, according to a poll released Friday.

The Elon University Poll, which interviewed 411 people statewide this week, found that 54 percent had favorable views of McCain, while only 37.4 percent had a favorable image of Obama. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, also had a higher approval rating than Obama's vice presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, 48.6 percent to 40.9 percent. Two thirds of those surveyed said vice presidential running mates have at least some influence in their evaluation of the candidates.

More than 40 percent of respondents said they plan to vote Republican in the upcoming presidential election, compared with 35.3 percent who said they would vote Democratic. Almost 20 percent of North Carolina voters remain undecided.

McCain's popularity doesn't appear to extend down the ticket to the U.S. Senate race, where Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole is locked in a tight race with Democratic challenger Kay Hagan, according to the poll.

Among those surveyed, 35.3 percent said they planned to vote Democratic in the Senate race, while 34.8 percent said they would vote Republican. Almost a quarter of the voters are still undecided.

Dole's approval ratings have dropped dramatically in recent months, the poll shows. More than 47 percent of those surveyed disapproved of her job performance, which was almost double the 25.7 percent who disapproved of her performance in an April poll by Elon.

More than half of those surveyed in the latest poll said it was time for North Carolina to have a new senator, while 37.2 percent said Dole deserves to be re-elected.

The economy is by far the most important issue in this year's election, according to the poll. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed ranked it at the top issue, followed by energy and gas prices at 11 percent and education at 10 percent.

More people though McCain was better equipped than Obama to handle the economy, taxes, problems in the housing market, immigration and the war in Iraq, according to the poll. Obama got the nod by those surveyed on the issues of education and health care.