HPU Poll: Voters Associate Different Positive Qualities with Hagan and Tillis

HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 23, 2014 – The first HPU Poll of the 2014 fall semester finds that likely voters associate different characteristics with each U.S. Senate candidate—incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan and North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis.

The HPU Poll asked likely voters in North Carolina to select which candidate best fit each item from a list of phrases. More likely voters thought phrases like “connects well with ordinary people” (14 percent more), “cares about people like me” (15 percent more) and “willing to work with the other party” (10 percent more) better fit Hagan. However, larger proportions of likely voters thought phrases like “strong leader” and “understands the economy” (both 8 percent more) better fit Tillis.

The candidates were essentially tied on phrases like “good judgment in a crisis” and “will do what’s right, not what’s popular.” Nearly one-third of likely voters thought that both candidates were “smart.”

“We do not need to look any further than these deep splits over personal characteristics and issue competence to see key reasons why this Senate race is so close,” said Brian McDonald, assistant director of the HPU Poll. “Groups of likely voters are seeing differences in these candidates across these various appealing attributes and that is evidence they are carefully considering the relative merits of the candidates.”

 

Likely voters – U.S. Senate candidates’ characteristics

Regardless of who you support, which of these two U.S. Senate candidates, Kay Hagan or Thom Tillis, do you think the phrase fits best?

 

Strong leader:

Kay Hagan – 33 percent

Thom Tillis – 41 percent

Both – 9 percent

Neither – 9 percent

Don’t Know/refused – 8 percent

 

Connects well with ordinary people:

Kay Hagan – 43 percent

Thom Tillis – 29 percent

Both – 6 percent

Neither – 12 percent

Don’t Know/refused – 9 percent

 

Has middle class values:

Kay Hagan – 39 percent

Thom Tillis – 32 percent

Both – 6 percent

Neither – 13 percent

Don’t Know/refused – 11 percent

 

Honest and truthful:

Kay Hagan – 34 percent

Thom Tillis – 28 percent

Both – 5 percent

Neither – 22 percent

Don’t Know/refused – 11 percent

 

Good judgment in a crisis:

Kay Hagan – 34 percent

Thom Tillis – 36 percent

Both – 3 percent

Neither – 11 percent

Don’t Know/refused – 18 percent

 

Understands the economy:

Kay Hagan – 33 percent

Thom Tillis – 41 percent

Both – 6 percent

Neither – 12 percent

Don’t Know/refused – 9 percent

 

Takes action rather than just talking:

Kay Hagan – 34 percent

Thom Tillis – 39 percent

Both – 8 percent

Neither – 11 percent

Don’t Know/refused – 9 percent

 

Willing to work with the other party:

Kay Hagan – 41 percent

Thom Tillis – 31 percent

Both – 5 percent

Neither – 14 percent

Don’t Know/refused – 10 percent

 

Cares about people like me:

Kay Hagan – 42 percent

Thom Tillis – 27 percent

Both – 8 percent

Neither – 15 percent

Don’t Know/refused – 9 percent

 

Will do what’s right, not what’s popular:

Kay Hagan – 36 percent

Thom Tillis – 37 percent

Both – 3 percent

Neither) – 14 percent

Don’t Know/refused – 11 percent

 

Smart:

Kay Hagan – 30 percent

Thom Tillis – 24 percent

Both – 31 percent

Neither – 6 percent

Don’t Know/refused – 9 percent

 

(North Carolina likely voter sample surveyed Sept. 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 Sept. 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 its 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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