Raleigh, N.C. – With a widely publicized video of a confrontation with two students on a Washington, DC sidewalk circulating, incumbent Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge now trails Republican challenger Renee Ellmers according to a new SurveyUSA poll released today by the Civitas Institute
According to the poll of 400 registered voters in North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional district, Ellmers leads Etheridge 39 percent to 38 percent. Twelve percent said they would vote for Libertarian Tom Rose and 11 percent said they were undecided.
Etheridge has been in elected office since 1973 and has served in Congress since 1996. With his long career in office the voters know him well, however the recent video has damaged his standing among voters. Of those polled, 40 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion of Etheridge. While only 25 percent view him favorably. Thirty-three percent said they had no opinion or were neutral. Thus, Etheridge has a net -17 favorability rating when subtracting his favorability rating from his unfavorable rating.
Ellmers, a medical clinic director from Dunn, is relatively unknown to voters. She is seen favorably by 17 percent of voters and unfavorably by 11 percent. The remaining 71 percent said they are neutral or had no opinion, for a net +6 favorability rating.
“With the mood of the voters in the second district, this was always going to be a tough race for Etheridge. However, the video confrontation has vastly complicated his efforts and has now put him in the national spotlight,” said Civitas Institute President Francis De Luca. “Even prior to the video, Etheridge’s votes on the bailout, health care and Cap and Trade were hurting him with voters.”
Five out of six voters in the district had seen or heard about Etheridge’s on-camera confrontation with two college-aged students who asked him if he supported the Obama agenda. Of those voters who had seen it, 45 percent said the video made them less likely to support Etheridge now, including 32 percent of Democratic voters.
Ellmers is also benefitting from the low approval ratings for President Obama by receiving support from almost 85 percent of majority voters who disapprove of Obama’s job performance. She also is getting almost 79 percent of the voters who think North Carolina is headed in the wrong direction.
“The second district is a conservative leaning district with suburbs, small towns and farms, the very places that are expressing the most displeasure with the current political agenda in Washington,” added De Luca. “If Ellmers can capitalize on the national publicity generated by the video and raise the resources to compete with Etheridge’s war chest she will be in a very good position.”
The district is rated as an R+2 district by the Cook Political Report – an index that rates the relative partisan voting habits of individual legislative districts.
For full results and crosstabs from the poll, click here.
The survey of 400 registered voters was taken June 15-16 by SurveyUSA on behalf of the Civitas Institute using the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) method. It carries a margin of error of 4.9%.
This SurveyUSA poll was conducted by telephone in the voice of a professional announcer. Respondent households were selected at random, using Random Digit Dialed (RDD) sample provided by Survey Sampling, of Fairfield CT. All respondents heard the questions asked identically. Where necessary, responses were weighted according to age, gender, ethnic origin, geographical area and number of adults and number of voice telephone lines in the household, so that the sample would reflect the actual demographic proportions in the population, using most recent U.S. Census estimates. In theory, with the stated sample size, one can say with 95% certainty that the results would not vary by more than the stated margin of sampling error, in one direction or the other, had the entire universe of respondents been interviewed with complete accuracy. There are other possible sources of error in all surveys that may be more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. These include refusals to be interviewed, question wording and question order, weighting by demographic control data and the manner in which respondents are filtered (such as, determining who is a likely voter). It is difficult to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. Fieldwork for this survey was done by SurveyUSA of Clifton, NJ.