As our state again hosts one of the most highly anticipated U.S. Senate races in the nation, the NC Chamber Political Program is releasing new polling data of likely Republican primary voters. Given that there is little debate on who will be the Democratic nominee, our poll solely focused on likely GOP primary voters just before early voting started on April 28. This data is purely informative and not a reflection of the NC Chamber’s position or endorsement of any candidate.
The NC Chamber Political Program aims to inform our membership of the latest trends through data-driven analysis. In addition to providing insight on the current political landscape, we also are engaged politically through the NC Chamber PAC and work to educate voters on important issues and candidates through the NC Chamber Voter Education program. Polling is an integral part of our work in this space.
Following is our analysis of this poll from NC Chamber Political Director Kirk O’Steen.
U.S. Senate Race
Ted Budd’s lead in the U.S. Senate primary continues to grow
Congressman Ted Budd seems to be hitting his stride at just the right time in this primary. Early in the cycle, the big question was whether a relatively unknown Congressman could propel himself ahead of former Governor Pat McCrory with the help of President Donald Trump’s endorsement, as well as the endorsement and financial backing of the conservative Club for Growth organization. After moving into the top spot in several polls back in early April, the biggest question now is just how much Budd’s margin of victory will be by the time voting ends on May 17.
Republican voters split on Trump Endorsement
When asked if Donald Trump’s endorsement of Ted Budd made any difference in their choice for U.S. Senate, just over half of respondents said it made no difference. Filtering by candidate preference, almost two thirds of Budd voters said Trump’s endorsement made a difference, while only 33 percent of McCrory voters said the former President’s endorsement of Budd made any difference in their decision making for the race.
Republican respondents more likely to support Budd in November than McCrory
In a hypothetical matchup of Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Cheri Beasley vs. Ted Budd, 85 percent of likely GOP primary voters said they would vote for Ted Budd.
While asking a question like this to a mostly Republican sample may seem trivial, only 73 percent of voters would definitely support Pat McCrory against Cheri Beasley in November. The 12 percent difference could be a sign that Budd’s surge into the lead wasn’t just a result of significant positive advertising from groups like the Club for Growth and former President Trump. There could also be some underlying uncertainty about McCrory for likely GOP primary voters.
N.C. Supreme Court Races and Judicial Preferences
Trey Allen has edge in NC Supreme Court primary, but most voters undecided
The State Supreme Court was in the spotlight of North Carolina politics earlier this year after they paused candidate filing, postponed the primary date, and threw out the new legislative maps enacted by the General Assembly, all with a 4-3 Democratic majority. With two available seats and the opportunity for Republicans to flip the court to a Republican majority, there will likely be much more interest in state judicial races than previous cycles. While the N.C. Supreme Court Seat 3 general election matchup is already set (Richard Dietz vs. Lucy Inman), three GOP candidates are battling for a chance to take on Democratic incumbent, Justice Sam Ervin IV in November.
Our survey data indicates that Trey Allen has the lead over April Wood, and Victoria Prince is a distant third choice. However, the vast majority of voters are still undecided. This race will likely be competitive until the end and certainly one to watch on primary night.
Ideology most important to GOP voters when considering judicial candidates
When asked what was most important when evaluating a State Supreme Court candidate, 69 percent of respondents said ideology or judicial philosophy on key issues was most important. Second most was prior judicial experience with 21 percent of responses.
An Eye on 2024
Trump up ‘yuge’ in hypothetical 2024 GOP Presidential primary
With 52 percent selection, former President Donald Trump is still most popular among likely GOP presidential candidates. Florida Governor Ron Desantis, however, is continuing to make a name for himself on the national stage. It’s still too early to draw any conclusions here but expect to hear a lot more of Trump and Desantis as we move closer to the 2024 presidential election.
From April 25 to April 28, 2022, Atlantic Polling Strategies (APS), in partnership with NC Chamber, conducted a poll of 534 likely voters in the upcoming North Carolina Republican primary election. The purpose of this poll was to survey GOP Primary voter sentiments ahead of the Tuesday, May 17 primary as early voting began on Thursday, April 28. The data for the poll are based on results drawn from a cellphone sample of SMS-to-web (N=310) provided by Consensus Strategies and an online panel provided by Lucid (N=224). Lucid respondents are prescreened through profiling questions to determine the qualification of each participant. Respondents are then matched based on their qualifying characteristics with surveys relevant to their descriptors. The poll’s Credibility Interval (CI), similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE), was +/- 4.9 percentage points. To ensure the sample was representative of the likely Republican primary electorate, APS weighted the data by gender, age, education, race, region, and election modeling based on previous Republican primary elections.
Atlantic Polling Strategies LLC is the private polling organization of Dr. Peter Francia and Dr. Jonathan Morris, who have taught political science at East Carolina University for almost twenty years and lead the ECU Center for Survey Research, which has grown to national relevance over the last several elections and been referenced in several major publications.
The polling memo and tabulated results of this project can be found here.