HPU Poll: Hagan and Tillis Senate Race Still Too Close to Call Six Weeks Before Election

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HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 22, 2014 – The first HPU Poll of the 2014 fall semester finds that the race for U.S. Senate between incumbent Senator Kay Hagan and North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis is a statistical tie with Hagan receiving support from 42 percent of likely voters and Tillis receiving 40 percent support. A statistical tie means that the survey results are too close to call as they are within the margin of error.

The poll’s findings are in line with what numerous recent surveys have said about the Senate race in North Carolina: it is extremely close and will have an outcome that depends on the extent to which campaigns can turn out their most likely supporters.

The poll also finds that 38 percent of North Carolina likely voters approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance. The new poll places Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr’s job performance at 39 and 34 percent approval, respectively. Of all the elected officials in the poll, Gov. Pat McCrory has the highest overall approval rating of 46 percent.

Fully 57 percent of the likely voters interviewed for the survey disapproved of President Obama’s job performance. For Senators Hagan and Burr, those numbers were 50 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

The poll also finds approximately one out of every five (20 percent) of the same respondents believe the country is headed in the right direction versus almost three-quarters (73 percent) of North Carolina’s likely voters who see the country as being on the wrong track. The U.S. Congress fared the worst in job approval, earning the approval of only 10 percent of likely North Carolina voters.

“This U.S. Senate race is very close, and one reason for that is the generally negative outlook North Carolina’s voters have right now,” said Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science and the director of the HPU Poll. “This electoral environment will make it more difficult for either candidate to open up a wide lead, and the competitiveness of the race will compound this tendency by continuing to attract extremely high levels of outside spending and negative campaigning.”

 

Likely voters – Senate race

If the election for United States Senate were held today would you be voting for Republican Thom Tillis, Democrat Kay Hagan, or Libertarian Sean Haugh?

Thom Tillis – 40 percent

Kay Hagan – 42 percent

Sean Haugh – 6 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 12 percent

(North Carolina likely voter sample surveyed September 13 – 18, n = 410 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 5 percent)

 

Likely voters Presidential job approval

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Barack Obama is handling his job as president?

Approve – 38 percent

Disapprove – 57 percent

Don’t know/refuse –5 percent

(North Carolina likely voter sample surveyed September 13 – 18, n = 410 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 5 percent)

 

Likely voters – Senator Hagan job approval

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Kay Hagan is handling her job as United States Senator?

Approve – 39 percent

Disapprove – 50 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 11 percent

(North Carolina likely voter sample surveyed September 13 – 18, n = 410 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 5 percent)

 

Likely voters – Senator Burr job approval

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Richard Burr is handling his job as United States Senator?

Approve – 34 percent

Disapprove – 31 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 35 percent

(North Carolina likely voter sample surveyed September 13 – 18, n = 410 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 5 percent)

 

Likely voters – Governor McCrory job approval

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Pat McCrory is handling his job as Governor?

Approve – 46 percent

Disapprove – 43 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 11 percent

(North Carolina likely voter sample surveyed September 13 – 18, n = 410 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 5 percent)

 

Likely voters – Congress job approval

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that the U.S. Congress is handling its job?

Approve – 10 percent

Disapprove – 84 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 6 percent

(North Carolina likely voter sample surveyed September 13 – 18, n = 410 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 5 percent)

 

Likely voters – Country direction

Do you think things in this country are generally going in the right direction or do you feel things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track?

Right direction – 20 percent

Wrong track – 73 percent

Don’t know/refused – 8 percent

(North Carolina likely voter sample surveyed September 13 – 18, n = 410 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 5 percent)

 

The High Point University Survey Research Center fielded this survey with live interviewers calling between September 13 and 18, 2014. The responses came from 410 likely voters with landline or cellular telephones. First, registered voters were identified using a Registration Based Sampling system that selected possible respondents from a statewide, North Carolina list of registered voters that had landline and cell phone numbers appended by a contractor. Likely voters were estimated by asking a screening question: “On November 4, North Carolina will hold their general election for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and other offices. How certain are you that you will vote in this election? Are you almost certain to vote, you probably will vote, your chances of voting are 50/50, or you will not vote in the November 2014 general election?” The only registered voters who passed the screen were those who responded “almost certain” or “probably” to the screening question AND voted in the 2010 general election in North Carolina, registered in North Carolina after 2010 and voted in the 2012 general election, or registered in North Carolina since 2012 passed the screen. The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire this sample. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 5 percentage points for this population of respondents. The data are weighted toward estimated turn out figures for age, gender and race based on North Carolina Board of Elections data and exit polls from past campaigns. In addition to sampling error, factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls.

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/. The materials on-line include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SurveyResearchCenter  and Twitter at http://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald serves as the assistant director of the HPU Poll.

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