HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 27, 2016 – A new HPU Poll finds that likely voters in North Carolina associate different characteristics with each U.S. presidential candidate — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Respondents to the poll also differ in who they trust to do a better job handling a series of policy issues.
Overall, Hillary Clinton is associated with more positive personal characteristics, but Donald Trump appears to have small advantages on the issues that likely voters say are most important.
The HPU Poll asked likely voters in North Carolina to select which candidate best fits each item from a list of phrases. More North Carolina likely voters thought phrases like “willing to work with the other party” (19 percent more), “good judgment in a crisis” (17 percent more) “smart” (15 percent more) and “connects well with ordinary people” (12 percent more) better fit Clinton. However, more likely voters thought phrases like “understands the economy” (5 percent more), “strong leader” (4 percent more) and “will do what’s right, not what’s popular” (4 percent more) better fit Trump.
Although Trump had a small possible advantage on “honest and truthful” (4 percent more), more respondents said “neither” (36 percent) of the candidates were associated with that particular phrase in their minds.
“These splits over personal characteristics and competence in dealing with major issues will be important as people consider the 2016 election,” says Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct professor. “This election has clearly taken a toll on the extent to which people see the candidates as honest.”
On policy issues, there were differences in how North Carolina likely voters perceive candidates. Poll respondents were read a list of policies and asked who they thought would do the best job dealing with them — Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
Trump had an advantage on issues such as “federal taxes” (13 percent more), “improving economic conditions” (9 percent more), “creating jobs” (8 percent more), “fighting terrorism” (8 percent more) and “protecting the U.S. from foreign threats” (6 percent more). Clinton had an advantage on issues such as “promoting education” (30 percent more), “preserving Medicare” (25 percent more), “providing quality health care” (22 percent more) and “protecting Social Security” (17 percent more).
Respondents were asked to rank the most important problems for candidates to address. The largest percentages chose “protecting the U.S. from foreign threats” (21 percent) and “improving economic conditions” (16 percent). Other important issues included “creating jobs” (12 percent), “fighting terrorism” (11 percent) and “promoting education” (10 percent).
“As the election nears, Hillary Clinton seems to have a bigger advantage on her key issues,” says McDonald. “However, Donald Trump appears to have a small advantage on the issues that are of most importance to these likely voters.”
The High Point University Survey Research Center interviewed 404 state of North Carolina likely voters Sept. 17 through Sept. 22, 2016, using Registration Based Sample (aka Voter List Sample) purchased from Survey Sampling International through Aristotle in Washington, D.C. To be included in the sample, a voter needed to have a propensity score of more than 30 on a scale of 0 to 100 based on their voting history in presidential and midterm elections and demographics. In order to confirm voters’ likelihood of voting, they were asked an additional screening question: “On November 8, North Carolina will hold its election for President, U.S. Senate, Governor, 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 2016 general election?” Only respondents who indicated they were “almost certain” to vote or “probably” would vote were considered to be likely voters. Of the 419 registered voters interviewed, 404 were determined to be likely to vote in the Nov. 8, 2016 general election. This research was conducted 100 percent by telephone. Respondents on both cell phones (273 interviews) and landlines (131 interviews) were contacted by live operators at the Survey Research Center, who hand-dialed the telephone and completed the interview. Details from this survey are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2016/10/47memoC.pdf
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 online 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 Twitter at http://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.
Dr. Martin Kifer, associate professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald serves as the associate director of the HPU Poll.