Local News

Mason-Dixon Poll: Presidential Race Considered Dead Heat In N.C.

Posted July 15, 2004 3:14 a.m. EDT

— Results are in from the first statewide poll since North Carolina's John Edwards joined John Kerry in the race for the White House. From the numbers, the news is mixed.


WRAL/Mason-Dixon poll

shows President George W. Bush and John Kerry in a statistical dead heat in North Carolina. Just three points separate them, though the gap was closer three months ago. The undecided vote could make all the difference.

Many experts predicted a huge Democratic bump when Edwards joined the ticket. While the latest poll has two positive indicators about Edwards' popularity in North Carolina, it does not necessarily mean a Tar Heel win for the Democrats.

President George W. Bush visited Raleigh one day for a fund-raiser, followed by Kerry and Edwards for a rally. Still, a new poll said Edwards' connections to North Carolina are not giving the Democratic ticket in North Carolina a boost. In fact, the state is about split in its support.

North Carolina State University Political Science professor Andy Taylor said the lack of Democratic bump is good news for the president, but there is bad news, too.

"He won North Carolina by 13 percentage points in 2000. If North Carolina is that close, say three, four, five percentage points, that's an 8 percent gain by the Democrats. If that's replicated across the country, then Kerry wins and Kerry wins pretty well," he said.

The WRAL/Mason-Dixon poll found Edwards is the second-most favored candidate just behind Bush. John Kerry is the least favorable. It also said that 64 percent of North Carolinian's approve of Kerry's decision in choosing Edwards as a running mate.

However, the state still did not see a Democratic bounce. Taylor believes a majority of people were firm in their choice even before Kerry's pick.

"Somewhere in the range of 80 to 90 percent of people already said -- and I don't know whether they are going to do it or not, -- they said they have made up their minds. That's very unusual," Taylor said.

The Democratic ticket has overwhelming support in the Triangle -- 57 percent for Kerry/Edwards compared to Bush/Cheney's 37 percent. However, the president leads in every other part of the state.

The poll also found that more Democrats would vote for Bush than Republicans for Kerry. As for gender, 53 percent of men say they would vote for the current administration while 51 percent of women would vote for John Kerry.

The racial breakdown shows that 59 percent of white voters are for Bush while 84 percent of the black vote goes to Kerry.

The poll

, conducted July 12 - 13, has a margin for error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. A total 625 registered voters were interviewed statewide by telephone. All said they were likely to vote in the November general election.

A section of the survey also includes an over-sampling of 400 voters who indicated they were "likely to vote" in the July 20 Republican primary election. This over-sampling was only on the questions related to the Republican primary race. The margin for error for these results is plus or minus 4 percent.