HPU Poll: Sanders and Bloomberg lead in NC Democratic Presidential Primary

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The HPU Poll also found incumbent President Donald Trump leads in the NC Republican primary.

HIGH POINT, N.C., March 2, 2020 – A new High Point University Poll finds that North Carolinians who are planning to vote or who have already voted in the 2020 Democratic primary for president prefer U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to other candidates.

Sanders leads Bloomberg 31% to 18% among self-identified, registered Democratic voters and unaffiliated voters who said they would participate in the Democratic primary. Among those most likely to vote in the Democratic primary or those who have already voted, Sanders draws 28% support compared to Bloomberg’s 20%. 

Among the self-identified registered voters who may vote in the Democratic primary, other active candidates receiving a significant amount of support include former Vice President Joe Biden (14%) and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (11%). Rounding out the active candidates who received some support from these self-identified registered voters, were Pete Buttigieg (8%), Tom Steyer (4%) and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (3%). Buttigieg and Steyer have since suspended their campaigns.

Other candidates on the ballot had 1% support or less. Some have already suspended their campaigns but remain on the ballot.

In the Republican primary for president, incumbent President Donald Trump has the support of 89% of self-identified, registered Republican voters and unaffiliated voters who said they would participate in the Republican primary. Trump has the support of 91% of the smaller group of voters who are most likely to vote or who have already voted in the North Carolina Republican primary for president. Other Republican candidates for president draw single digit support from registered voters, including Joe Walsh (4%) and Bill Weld (4%).

In the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, former State Senator Cal Cunningham has the most support (42%) among self-identified registered voters who may vote in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator. He is followed by State Senator Erica D. Smith (24%), Trevor Fuller (5%) and Steven Swenson (4%). About one-quarter of these self-identified registered voters (24%) do not yet express a preference in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Thom Tillis has the support of 58% of the self-identified registered voters who may participate in the Republican primary. Tillis is trailed by Paul Wright (7%), Larry Holmquist (5%) and Sharon Hudson (5%). More than one-quarter (26%) of these self-identified registered voters currently express no preference.  

In the Democratic primary for governor of North Carolina, incumbent Gov. Roy Cooper has support of 68% of the self-identified registered voters who may vote in the Democratic primary, and Ernest T. Reeves trails him with 14%. In the Republican primary for governor, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has 64% support among these registered voters, and Holly Grange trails him with 12%. About one-quarter (24%) currently express no preference in that Republican primary.

“Super Tuesday is upon us, and North Carolina is among a number of important states having their primaries,” says Dr. Martin Kifer, associate professor of political science and director of the HPU Poll. “As expected, we have an incumbent president with extremely high levels of support among those who will vote in the Republican primary and a very divided field on the Democratic side.”

North Carolinians gave Trump a job approval rating of 46%, with just less than half (47%) of North Carolina residents saying they disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has an approval rating of 42%, and 33% of poll participants disapprove of the way he is handling his job. Meanwhile, 25% of these same North Carolina residents did not offer an opinion of Cooper’s job performance.

U.S. Senator Thom Tillis has a 34% approval rating, and 36% of North Carolina residents said they disapprove. Slightly less than one-third (31%) do not offer a view one way or another. 

Only 24% of North Carolinians approve of how U.S. Congress in general is doing its job, while 55% disapprove and 21% offer no view either way.

“Some North Carolinians may have already voted in the primary, while others are waiting for election day,” says Brian McDonald, adjunct professor and associate director of the HPU Poll. “These findings give us some valuable insight into North Carolina voters’ thinking about the candidates.”

Self-identified registered voters and likely and actual voters – Democratic Presidential Primary (February 2020)

If the Democratic primary for President of the United States were today, and you were filling out a Democratic primary ballot now, who would you vote for? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY WOULD VOTE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY, RESPONDENTS WHO SAID “NO PREFERENCE” WERE ASKED TOWARD WHICH CANDIDATE THEY LEANED]

Who did you vote for in the Democratic primary for President? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY ALREADY VOTED IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY] 

+= Candidate has formally suspended his or her campaign but remains on the North Carolina ballot

  Likely and actual voters (%) Registered Voters (%)
Bernie Sanders 28 31
Michael R. Bloomberg 20 18
Joseph R. Biden 14 14
Elizabeth Warren 12 11
Pete Buttigieg + 8 8
Tom Steyer + 4 4
Amy Klobuchar 4 3
Cory Booker + 2 2
Tulsi Gabbard 1 1
Deval Patrick + 2 1
Andrew Yang + 0 *
Julian Castro + 0 0
John K. Delaney + 0 *
Marianne Williamson+ * *
Michael Bennet + 0 *
No Preference/Cannot recall 7 7
  n=274 n=472

(All adult North Carolina residents phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 21- 28, 2020, n = 1,216 and credibility interval of +/- 3.4%)

Self-identified registered voters and likely and actual voters – Republican Presidential Primary (February 2020)

If the Republican Primary for President of the United States were today, and you were filling out a Republican primary ballot now, who would you vote for? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY WOULD VOTE IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY. RESPONDENTS WHO SAID “NO PREFERENCE” WERE ASKED TOWARD WHICH CANDIDATE THEY LEANED]

Who did you vote for in the Republican primary for President? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY ALREADY VOTED IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY]

+= Candidate has formally suspended his or her campaign but remains on the North Carolina ballot

  Likely and actual voters (%) Registered Voters (%)
Donald J. Trump 91 89
Joe Walsh + 4 4
Bill Weld 3 4
No Preference/Cannot recall 2 4
  n=246 n=443
     

(All adult North Carolina residents phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 21- 28, 2020, n = 1,216 and credibility interval of +/- 3.4%)

Self-identified registered voters and likely and actual voters – Democratic U.S. Senate Primary (February 2020)

If the Democratic Primary for U.S. Senator for North Carolina were today, and you were filling out a Democratic primary ballot now, who would you vote for? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY WOULD VOTE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY, RESPONDENTS WHO SAID “NO PREFERENCE” WERE ASKED TOWARD WHICH CANDIDATE THEY LEANED]

Which candidate did you vote for in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY ALREADY VOTED IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY] 

  Likely and actual voters (%) Registered Voters (%)
Cal Cunningham 50 42
Erica D. Smith 24 24
Trevor M. Fuller 4 5
Steven Swenson 3 4
Atul Goel 1 1
No preference/Cannot recall 18 24
  N = 274 N = 474

(All adult North Carolina residents phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 21- 28, 2020, n = 1,216 and credibility interval of +/- 3.4%)

Self-identified registered voters and likely and actual voters – Republican U.S. Senate Primary (February 2020)

If the Republican Primary for U.S. Senator for North Carolina were today, and you were filling out a Republican primary ballot now, who would you vote for? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY WOULD VOTE IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY. RESPONDENTS WHO SAID “NO PREFERENCE” WERE ASKED TOWARD WHICH CANDIDATE THEY LEANED]

Who did you vote for in the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY ALREADY VOTED IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY]

  Likely and actual voters (%) Registered Voters (%)
Thom Tillis 69 58
Paul Wright 8 7
Larry Holmquist 3 5
Sharon Hudson 5 5
No Preference/Cannot recall 16 26
  n=247 n=444

(All adult North Carolina residents phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 21- 28, 2020, n = 1,216 and credibility interval of +/- 3.4%)

Self-identified registered voters and likely and actual voters – Democratic NC Governor Primary (February 2020)

If the Democratic Primary for Governor of North Carolina were today, and you were filling out a Democratic primary ballot now, who would you vote for? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY WOULD VOTE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY, RESPONDENTS WHO SAID “NO PREFERENCE” WERE ASKED TOWARD WHICH CANDIDATE THEY LEANED]

Who did you vote for in the Democratic primary for Governor of North Carolina? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY ALREADY VOTED IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY] 

  Likely and actual voters (%) Registered Voters (%)
Roy Cooper 74 68
Ernest T. Reeves 13 14
No Preference/Cannot recall 13 18
  n=269 n=468

(All adult North Carolina residents phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 21- 28, 2020, n = 1,216 and credibility interval of +/- 3.4%)

Self-identified registered voters and likely and actual voters – Republican N.C. Governor Primary (February 2020)

If the Republican Primary for Governor of North Carolina were today, and you were filling out a Republican primary ballot now, who would you vote for? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY WOULD VOTE IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY. RESPONDENTS WHO SAID “NO PREFERENCE” WERE ASKED TOWARD WHICH CANDIDATE THEY LEANED]

Who did you vote for in the Republican Primary for Governor of North Carolina? [ASKED OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY ALREADY VOTED IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY]

  Likely and actual voters (%) Registered Voters (%)
Dan Forest 74 64
Holly Grange 13 12
No Preference/Cannot recall 13 24
  n=246 n=443

(All adult North Carolina residents phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 21- 28, 2020, n = 1,216 and credibility interval of +/- 3.4%)

All adults – Presidential Job Approval (February 2020)

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

Approve – 46%

Disapprove – 47%

Don’t know/refuse – 8%

(All adult North Carolina residents phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 21- 28, 2020, n = 1,216 and credibility interval of +/- 3.4%)

All adults – Governor Roy Cooper Approval (February 2020)

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

Approve – 42%

Disapprove – 33%

Don’t know/refuse – 25%

(All adult North Carolina residents phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 21- 28, 2020, n = 1,216 and credibility interval of +/- 3.4%)

All adults – U.S. Senator Thom Tillis Approval (February 2020)

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

Approve – 34%

Disapprove – 36%

Don’t know/refuse – 31%

(All adult North Carolina residents phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 21- 28, 2020, n = 1,216 and credibility interval of +/- 3.4%)

All adults – U.S. Congress Approval (February 2020)

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

Approve – 24%

Disapprove – 55%

Don’t know/refuse – 21%

(All adult North Carolina residents phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 21- 28, 2020, n = 1,216 and credibility interval of +/- 3.4%)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Feb. 21 through Feb. 28, 2020 and an online survey fielded at the same time. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 1,216 adults interviewed online (916 respondents) as well as landline or cellular telephones (300 respondents). Estimates for registered voters are based on 972 interviews with respondents within the larger sample who self-identified as registered to vote. Likely voter estimates are based on responses from a subset of those registered voters. Likely voters were determined by asking a series of questions about their past and intended voting behavior that are available in the memo associated with this poll. The Survey Research Center contracted with dynata, formerly Research Now SSI: https://www.dynata.com/ to acquire these samples, and fielded the online survey using its Qualtrics platform. This is a combined sample of live phone interviews and online interviews. The online sampling is from a panel of respondents, so their participation does not adhere to usual assumptions associated with random selection. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assign a classical margin of sampling error for the results. In this case, the SRC provides a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points to account for a traditional 95% confidence interval for the estimates (plus or minus 2.8 percentage points) and a design effect of 1.2 (based on the weighting). The data is weighted toward population estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and education level based on U.S. Census numbers for North Carolina. Factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls. Details from this survey are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2020/03/70memoA.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.

The HPU Poll reports methodological details in accordance with the standards set out by AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, and the HPU Survey Research Center is a Charter Member of the Initiative. For more information, see

http://transparency.aapor.org/index.php/transparency.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

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

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