RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina voters would be less likely to vote for a United States Senate candidate who was openly gay according to the latest DecisionMaker Poll. The negative impact of being a gay candidate is equally strong among Democratic voters as with voters as a whole. But Civitas Institute President Jack Hawke pointed out the numbers did not make it impossible for a gay candidate to win.
The negative response among all voters is close to a majority at 47 percent with 42 percent saying they are much less likely and 5 percent somewhat less likely to vote for an openly gay candidate.
Democrats are 46 percent less likely with 41 percent being much less likely to vote for an openly gay United States Senate candidate. A key constituent base of the Democratic Party, the African-American voter, is even more negative on supporting a gay candidate with 51 percent less likely and 49 percent much less likely.
“An openly gay candidate does not face an impossible scenario in North Carolina, but certainly a very difficult one,” according to Hawke. “A few other candidates have been able to overcome strongly negative polling to win. Senator Hillary Clinton has overcome very negative personal polling numbers to become the leading Democratic candidate for president. Here in North Carolina former Senator Jesse Helms was elected five times with strong negative opinion in each of his elections.”
In the potential Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, 69 percent of Democrats are unsure in an election between State Senator Kay Hagan and Jim Neal, an investment banker from Chapel Hill. Hagan leads Neal by 8 percent with 19 percent of the vote. In the general election U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole leads Hagan by 17 percent at 46 percent to 29 percent, and Dole leads Neal by 20 percent at 47 percent to 27 percent.
METHODOLOGY: Tel Opinion Research of Alexandria, Va. conducted the poll on November 16-21 with live telephone interviews of 800 registered voters, who voted in the 2002 and 2004 general elections, were first time voters in the 2006 general election, or voted in 2004 and 2006 as newly registered voters. It has a margin of error of +-3.7 percent.