Local Politics

Poll: Runoff likely for Democrats to choose Burr opponent

Posted April 26, 2010 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated April 26, 2010 9:58 p.m. EDT

WRAL News Poll image

— A week before the North Carolina primary, about a third of voters remain undecided as to which Democrat to vote for in the U.S. Senate race, according to a new WRAL News Poll.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and former state Sen. Cal Cunningham are the front-runners in the six-person Democratic field, but they have only 23 and 19 percent support, respectively, a poll conducted by SurveyUSA found. Durham lawyer Ken Lewis had 10 percent support, while the other candidates scored in the single digits.

The six Democrats are vying for a chance to unseat Republican Sen. Richard Burr in November, and one candidate needs to secure at least 40 percent of the primary votes to avoid a June runoff.

Burr should breeze to victory in the Republican primary on May 4, according to the poll. Fifty-nine percent of likely GOP voters are backing Burr, while each of his three primary opponents scores no more than 6 percent support. One in four voters remains undecided.

Burr scores over 50 percent among both male and female voters, across all age brackets, education levels, incomes and regions of the state and among various political ideologies. The only categories where he scores less than 50 percent are among black and independent voters.

Meanwhile, Cunningham leads among male Democratic voters, while Marshall is stronger among females. Marshall leads among all age brackets and education levels, while Cunningham holds slight edges among conservative Democrats and lower-income voters.

Cunningham, who is from Lexington, has a sizable lead in the Piedmont Triad area, while Marshall is ahead in Charlotte. Both are fairly even in Raleigh and down east.

SurveyUSA polled 520 likely Republican voters and 511 likely Democratic voters over the weekend. The GOP poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points, while the margin of error for the Democratic poll is 4.4 points.

The firm also surveyed 2,544 North Carolina adults to get their feedback on Congress and the U.S. and state economies. That poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.

Almost three-quarters of those polled said they disapprove of the job Congress is doing, while 20 percent approved. Black residents were evenly split in their support or distaste for Congress, but all other categories were firmly in the anti-lawmaker camp.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they believe the country is on the wrong track, compared with 31 percent who said the nation is headed in the right direction. Respondents who identified themselves as black, Democratic or liberal were the only categories where a majority said the U.S. was on the right track.

About a third of those surveyed said the North Carolina economy would be weaker than it is now, while another third said it would be about the same. Twenty-six percent said they think the economy will improve in the coming months.

Females, people age 65 and older, Democrats, blacks and liberals offered more optimistic outlooks on the state economy than other respondents.