Local News

Thompson Grabs Lead In N.C. Primary Poll

Posted June 7, 2007 1:22 p.m. EDT
Updated June 7, 2007 6:52 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina voters apparently want to put another actor in the White House.

According to a recent survey, Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee who hasn't officially entered the presidential race, has jumped into the lead in the North Carolina Republican primary.

The survey, released by Public Policy Polling, shows 37 percent of likely Republican primary voters would vote for Thompson, who has gained fame in recent years playing a New York district attorney on the television show "Law & Order."

Thompson's showing is a 12 percent increase from a similar survey in May.

"You look at TV every day, and you see him on some TV show. You see him on the news. He's a rock star," Republican strategist Ballard Everett said. "I don't think any of the voters are terribly happy with anybody that's running for president right now."

Among announced GOP candidates, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the favorite with 25 percent of likely Republican voters, while Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney both garnered 14 percent.

Peace College political science professor David McLennan said Thompson might look very presidential now, but when the hard questions come and his senate record is scrutinized during the campaign, the shine will wear.

"Voters are looking for something else, and that's what Thompson represents -- that something else," McLennan said. "He's really got it easy right now. The longer he waits, the better off he'll be. But he has to step in sometime."

Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards garnered 30 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in North Carolina. Twenty-six percent chose U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, and 22 percent picked U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

Everett said both parties' races are so wide open that Republican and Democratic voters could still be undecided when the conventions roll around next summer. That would be a stark contrast to recent elections, when the nominees were foregone conclusions long before the conventions, he said.

The survey also showed that Lt. Gen. Bev Perdue continues to lead State Treasurer Richard Moore 34 percent to 30 percent for the Democratic gubernatorial  nomination. Another 35 percent of voters remain undecided.

Moore's support rose by a percentage point since officially announcing his candidacy two weeks ago, the survey showed.

On the GOP side, 56 percent of voters remain undecided among gubernatorial candidates. Nineteen percent support Bill Graham, an Salisbury attorney, while state Sen. Fred Smith received 13 percent of the vote and former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr garnered 12 percent.

Everett said the GOP candidates for governor have a lot of work to do.

"Undecided is way ahead, and if I knew that guy's name, I'd go see if I could sign on as a consultant. I think people just aren't focusing right now," he said.