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Jan. 2016 Poll: Trump, Cruz Lead in GOP

February 8, 2016


In the wake of the Iowa caucuses, it’s a good time to take a second look at the most recent Civitas polling, which shows the upcoming GOP primary in North Carolina is a virtual toss-up.

The January Civitas polls asked likely Republican primary election voters who their current choice is among the Republican presidential hopefuls, and 27 percent said businessman Donald Trump, while 23 percent said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. That puts them within the poll’s margin of error.

Cruz and Trump also polled far ahead of the other candidates on the March 15 ballot. Following was the ballot’s “no preference” option at 11 percent. Next were Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 10 percent and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 7 percent, with no other candidate garnering more than 4 percent of the responses.

This special polling consists of separate surveys of two distinct groups: one being 500 likely Republican voters and a separate survey of 500 likely Democrat voters.

The poll also showed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a strong lead in the Democratic primary race in North Carolina.

The poll asked likely voters who their current choice is, and 53 percent said Clinton, while 28 percent said they favored Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Fifteen percent said they did not know who they would vote for.

Clinton and Sanders polled far ahead of others on the ballot, including former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who received 2 percent in our poll.

In the race for governor, 63 percent of likely GOP Primary voters favored Gov. Pat McCrory, while 8 percent chose challenger C. Robert Brawley, a former state representative. Twenty-eight percent were undecided.

On the Democratic side, state Attorney General Roy Cooper led with 48 percent, while 11 percent of likely Primary voters selected Durham attorney Ken Spaulding, and 38 percent were undecided.

In the Republican race for the U.S. Senate, Sen. Richard Burr was the choice of 45 percent of GOP voters. Cary obstetrician Greg Brannon, a U.S. Senate candidate last year, was supported by 7 percent; 3 percent backed retired Superior Court Judge Paul Wright; and 1 percent Larry Holmquist, a Greensboro resident. Forty-two percent said they were undecided.

On the Democratic side in the U.S. Senate race, 13 percent of likely voters picked former state Rep. Deborah Ross, 6 percent favored Durham businessman Kevin Griffin, and 3 percent chose Chris Rey, the mayor of Spring Lake. Seventy percent were undecided.

The January Civitas Poll also showed a split in public opinion that could be very significant this election year: stark differences between the way Democrats and Republicans view the direction the United States and North Carolina are headed.

This special polling consists of two distinct surveys: one of 500 likely Republican voters and a separate survey of 500 likely Democrat voters. They were asked who they would support in the primary elections for their party on March 15, including elections for president, U.S. senator, governor, and other statewide offices. Both

The poll indicated 88 percent of Republican primary voters think the nation is headed on the wrong track, and only 9 percent think it is going in the right direction. Meanwhile, 49 percent of Democratic voters think the nation is going in the right direction, while 41 percent think the nation is on the wrong track.

For North Carolina, the Republican view was 55% right direction/33% wrong track, with the Democratic view 26% right direction/65% wrong track.

“The vast majority of Republicans are alarmed by national and international news and trends they see happening now, while Democrats hold the same, though not as dramatic, view of events here in North Carolina,” Civitas President Francis De Luca said. “This unprecedented divergence in party opinions will help shape the March elections – how the nominees will campaign in the fall, and how the winners govern beginning next year.”

The polling also shows that a majority of likely Democratic voters and a plurality of likely Republican voters support the $2 billion infrastructure referendum on the March 15 ballot.

The bond proposal gained that level of support despite the fact that, in both parties, a majority of voters say passage of the bond will increase their taxes.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of Democratic voters were for the bond proposal, with 14 percent opposed, and 19 percent saying they didn’t know or needed more information. But, regardless of what they thought of the proposal, 67 said they believed that taxes would go up to pay for the bonds.

For Republicans, 42 percent favored the bonds, 35 percent were opposed, and 23 percent said they didn’t know or needed more information. Seventy-six percent of the Republicans, regardless of what they said about the bonds, said taxes would go up to pay for them.

Civitas is planning to run another poll closer to the March 15 balloting.

More information on the January polls can be found by clicking here.

For questions, or to arrange an interview, please contact Brooke Medina, communications director, at

Civitas has conducted live-caller voting in North Carolina since May 2005, and we are the only public policy organization offering statewide independent, nonpartisan data on a regular basis. Our polls have provided vital insights on what North Carolina voters think of the leaders and issues facing the state and nation.

Founded in 2005, the Civitas Institute is a Raleigh, NC-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit policy organization committed to advancing conservative ideas and shrinking the size of government. Civitas fights to eliminate government barriers to freedom so that North Carolinians can live a better life.

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