Raleigh, N.C. – Democratic Senator Marc Basnight now has less than 50 percent of North Carolina voters’ support according to a new SurveyUSA poll released today by the Civitas Institute.
According to the poll of 798 registered voters in that district, 49 percent of voters said they would vote for Basnight if the election for state senator were today. Thirty-nine percent said they would vote for Republican candidate Hood Richardson, and 12 percent said they were undecided.
Democratic support for Basnight remains strong as 76 percent said they would vote for him if the election were held today. Conversely, Republicans favor Richardson by a 67 percent-21 percent margin. Unaffiliated voters are also behind Richardson with a 47 percent-31 percent margin of support.
However, among voters who say they are definitely voting in November, Basnight’s lead shrinks to just one percentage point, 47%-46%.
“Senate President Marc Basnight is a North Carolina institution, but his district is changing underneath him, with many new voters moving in and those voters don’t have the same loyalty to him that long-time residents do,” said Civitas Institute Senior Legislative Analyst Chris Hayes. “Senate District 1 is certainly ‘in play’ this year, the question is, can Richardson raise the money to be competitive?”
Looking at the candidate’s favorable numbers, Basnight, now serving his 13th Senate term, is capitalizing on his name recognition as 55 percent of voters have an opinion of him (36 percent favorable-19 percent unfavorable). Thirty-three percent of voters said they are neutral and 12 percent said they have no opinion of his candidacy. Richardson, despite serving four terms on the Beaufort County Commission, is still largely unknown to voters outside that county. Thirty-three percent of voters have an opinion of him (15 percent favorable-18 percent unfavorable), yet 37 percent of voters said they are neutral, while 30 percent said they have no opinion.
The statewide trend toward Republicans on the generic ballot continues as 52 percent of voters said they will vote for the Republican candidate for state Legislature this fall. Support for the Democratic candidate drops 16 points to 36 percent, and 12 percent said they are undecided.
“Basnight’s name recognition gives him the upper-hand going into November,” added Hayes. “But if the momentum toward Republican candidates, especially among unaffiliated voters, continues, there’s a possibility this seat could flip.”
Senate District 1 is rated as a D+1 district on Civitas’ North Carolina Partisan Index – an index that rates the relative partisan voting habits of individual legislative districts. For more on the NCPI, click here.
House District 1
Additional numbers reveal that Republican candidate John Woodard is ahead of Democratic incumbent Bill Owens in the state House District 1 race – comprised of Camden, Currituck, Pasquotank, and Tyrell counties.
Of the 356 voters surveyed, when asked who they would vote for if the election for state representative were held today, 44 percent said Woodard. Forty-one percent of voters said they would vote for Owens, and 15 percent said they are undecided.
Among voters who said they were most likely to vote in 2010, Woodard’s lead increases to 52 percent from 37 percent.
“Despite having lower name identification among voters, Woodard is capitalizing upon the anti-incumbent sentiment being felt across the state,” said Hayes.
Both candidates’ favorable ratings are tied which is unexpected as Woodard is relatively unknown in the district with only 22 percent of voters having an opinion of him (12 percent favorable-10 percent unfavorable). Owens, currently serving his eighth House term, garners more name recognition among voters as 42 percent are aware of his candidacy, but has the same +2 net favorable rating (23 percent favorable-21 percent unfavorable) as his opponent.
Adding to Woodard’s lead is support from unaffiliated voters. Fifty-six percent of unaffiliated voters said they would vote for Woodard if the election for state representative were held today. Fifteen percent said they would vote for Owens and 29 percent said they were undecided. Meanwhile, Republican support for Woodard stands at 69-22 percent as Owens leads Democrats by a 74-16 percent margin.
House District 1 is rated as a D+1 district on Civitas’ North Carolina Partisan Index.
House District 2
In Chowan, Dare, Hyde, and Washington counties, Democratic incumbent Tim Spear is leading the race against Republican opponent Bob Steinburg.
Of the 353 voters surveyed, 50 percent of voters in that district said they would vote for Spear if the election for state representative were held today. Thirty-five percent of voters said they would vote for Steinburg, and 15 percent said they are undecided.
Meanwhile, looking at voters who said they are most likely voting in the fall, support for Spear drops slightly to 49 percent as Steinburg’s support increases to 40 percent.
Voters appear to be more familiar with Spear’s name as an incumbent as 40 percent of voters have an opinion of him (30 percent favorable-10 percent unfavorable). Thirty-eight percent of voters said they are neutral, and 22 percent said they have no opinion. Conversely, just 22 percent of voters have an opinion on Steinburg with an 11-11 percent favorable margin. Forty percent of voters’ opinions are neutral and 37 percent said they have no opinion of his candidacy.
“This is a Democratic-leaning district, but the gap may shrink as both candidates start to campaign and speak with voters,” Hayes commented. “However, Steinburg has a tough battle ahead of him.”
Civitas’ North Carolina Partisan Index House rates District 2 as a D+4 district.
For full results and crosstabs from the poll, click here.
The survey of 875 registered voters was taken July 29-August 1 by SurveyUSA on behalf of the Civitas Institute using the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) method. It carries a margin of error of 3.4% in Senate District 1, and 5.3% in House Districts 1 and 2.
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.