HPU Poll: Presidential Candidates Struggle to Stand Out in NC

HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 6, 2015 – The High Point University Poll finds that North Carolinians don’t give any current presidential candidate a favorability rating of 50 percent or above. Vice President Joe Biden has a 48 percent favorability rating while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s rating is 44 percent favorable.

Respondents to the survey were asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of 12 declared and potential candidates for president.

Other findings included that the front runners in many national and North Carolina polls did not have the highest favorability ratings even though they did tend to have the highest name recognition. Thirty-five percent of North Carolinians have a favorable view of Hillary Clinton while only 3 percent did not express a view about her. Donald Trump has a similarly low overall favorability rating of 30 percent, and only 2 percent of respondents had no opinion of him or had not heard of him.

No candidates other than Biden or Carson have favorability ratings above 40, and many were not yet well known to North Carolinians. For example, 40 percent of respondents did not know or had not heard of former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and more than half (53 percent), did not express an opinion about Ohio Governor John Kasich.

The poll also asked about respondents’ views on the general direction of the country and approval of President Obama. President Obama had a 42 percent job approval rating, which is not statistically different from his previously observed HPU Poll rating of 41 percent. Seventy percent also believe the country is on the wrong track, a finding almost identical to the HPU Poll reported in September.

“The poll findings tell us who has the broadest name recognition in the state, who starts in a good overall position in terms of their standing with the public and who will need to work hard to build a positive reputation,” says HPU Poll Director and assistant professor of political science Martin Kifer.

All adults – Favorability of Presidential candidates (September/October 2015)

Now I am going to read a list of people and groups. For each one, please tell me whether your overall opinion of that person or group is favorable or unfavorable. If you have never heard of this person or group, you should say so.

* = Democrat

Person Favorable Unfavorable (Neither) (Don’t know/Never heard of) (Refused)
Joe Biden* 48 39 5 8 1
Ben Carson 44 23 5 28 1
Hillary Clinton* 35 55 7 3 *
Mike Huckabee 31 38 8 22 1
Marco Rubio 30 31 7 32 1
Donald Trump 30 61 7 2 *
Bernie Sanders* 30 35 9 25 1
Jeb Bush 29 53 6 12 *
Carly Fiorina 28 22 9 40 1
Ted Cruz 24 35 8 32 1
Rand Paul 24 46 9 20 1
John Kasich 15 24 9 53 *


(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed September 26 – October 1, n = 446 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.6 percent)

All adults – Presidential job approval (September/October 2015)HPU Poll - Obama job approval - Oct. 2015

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

Approve – 42 percent

Disapprove – 50 percent

Don’t know/refused – 7 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed September 26 – October 1, n = 446 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.6 percent)

All adults – country direction (September/October 2015)HPU Poll - Country Direction - Oct. 2015

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 – 70 percent

Don’t know/refused – 10 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed September 26 – October 1, n = 446 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.6 percent)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Sept. 26 – Oct. 1, 2015. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 446 adults with landline or cellular telephones. The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire this sample. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.6 percentage points for all adult respondents. The data is weighted toward population estimates for cellular and landline telephone use, age, gender and race. 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. Details from this survey are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2015/10/41memoA.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, 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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