Attorney General Josh Stein and Lt. Governor Mark Robinson lead in their respective party’s primary for the 2024 gubernatorial race. (Courtesy photos)
Just over 100 days before North Carolinians vote in the 2024 primary election, a new poll indicates that Republican and Democratic frontrunners in the race for governor continue to hold big advantages over their rivals.
The Meredith College poll shows that Lt. Governor Mark Robinson holds a marked lead over other Republican challengers. Forty-one percent of likely Republican primary voters indicate they will support Robinson. Just five percent said they would vote for Republican Bill Graham, while state Treasurer Dale Folwell was attracting only three percent of the possible vote. Forty-two percent of those surveyed, however, have yet to make up their minds.
“A large number of Republican voters are undecided. There could be a competitive primary, but it looks unlikely unless one of Robinson’s challengers catches fire,” said David McLennan, director of the Meredith Poll.
McLennan notes that Robinson fares particularly well with the North Carolina’s most conservative primary voters, as well as those who are older and have less education.
As for the Democratic nomination for governor, an equal number of voters (42%) say they are undecided in who they will support.
For those who have decided, however, Attorney General Josh Stein retains a substantial double-digit lead (38-11%) over former Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan.
Still, Morgan has proven to be a strong choice for Black voters, younger voters, and those who identify as evangelical.
“For many primary voters, the campaign does not begin in earnest until after the holidays,” said McLennan. “It may be difficult for Morgan to overcome Stein’s advantages that include a strong campaign war chest and the endorsement of Governor Roy Cooper.”
In a possible head-to-head match-up between Robinson and Stein in the General Election, Stein prevailed over Robinson by two points (38-36%). McLennan notes that almost one in five voters indicate that they were not sure this far out.
The presidential contest will likely influence the direction for many of those who are currently undecided.
McLennan believes that while it’s premature in many ways to survey voters on a Trump-Biden rematch in 2024, North Carolinians should expect a very tight contest.
Results showed Biden edging Trump by a narrow margin (40-39%) with 17 percent of respondents indicating that they preferred someone else.
A general dissatisfaction
Top-of-the-ticket and down ballot races could be decided by how voters feel about the direction of the country and the state. The Meredith College poll found that voters of all stripes seem to be dissatisfied with the direction of the country. However, respondents were less dissatisfied with the direction of their home state of North Carolina. Thirty-six percent of the poll’s respondents said they were satisfied with the direction of North Carolina while 53 percent were dissatisfied.
What’s the reason for this pessimism in North Carolina politics?
“The most likely explanation is that the mood about national politics is affecting state politics,” the poll director suggested. “In other words, people are no longer distinguishing things going on at the national level from things going on in North Carolina.”[The orange line below represents dissatisfied voters. The blue line indicated those who are satisfied.]
One other key takeaway from the November poll is how little North Carolinians understand about civics and the political process. Only six percent of respondents correctly answered that unaffiliated voters are the largest group of voters in our state.
Of those surveyed, North Carolinians seemed to know less about their own state government than they do about the U.S. government.
For this part of the poll, voters were asked five comparable questions ranging from which party controls the House and Senate at the state and national level, the branch of government that approves our political maps, and the freedom guaranteed in the 1st Amendment.
Only around a third (35%) knew that congressional and legislative redistricting was solely the duty of the General Assembly. Thirty-seven percent incorrectly thought the governor is involved in the process.
“The fact that our youngest voters know significantly less about state government and politics than older voters should concern us all,” said McLennan. “I know there are efforts to improve civic education in the state. Those efforts need to be redoubled.”
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