Local Politics

Burr challengers battle obscurity

Posted March 22, 2010 1:00 p.m. EDT

— The slew of candidates lined up to challenge U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in the May primary and November general election appear to have a bigger battle on their hands – obscurity.

An Elon University Poll released Monday show nearly three-quarters of North Carolina residents don't recognize the names of the 11 people running for one of North Carolina's two Senate seats.

Burr had the highest name recognition, leaving a favorable impression with 34 percent of respondents and a negative impression with 17 percent. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall had the next highest name recognition, with an 18 percent favorable rating and an 8 percent unfavorable impression.

At least 70 percent of those surveyed responded "don't know" when asked about each of the other Democratic, Republican and Libertarian candidates running in the Senate race.

“With the national political tempest surrounding health care and the economy, North Carolinians have yet to focus on the upcoming election,” Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll, said in a statement. “As the primaries are only six weeks away, candidates have a lot of work to do in a limited amount of time.”

The poll surveyed 579 North Carolina residents last week and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

Respondents also expressed more optimism about the economy, with 35 percent saying they expect North Carolina's economy to improve by the end of the year and 29 percent saying things will likely get worse. Last fall, 36 percent expected the state economy to continue to decline, compared with 19 percent who predicted improvement.

Thirty-four percent of those surveyed said they expect their individual finances to improve in 2010, compared with 13 percent who expect to be worse off by the end of the year.

Still, 62 percent of respondents believe the country is on the wrong track, and 58 percent believe the state is headed in the wrong direction.