ECU polls measures preferences for President and Governor

Published December 7, 2023

By East Carolina University Poll

A recent poll from East Carolina University’s Center for Survey Research shows Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson with a commanding 26-point lead over his closest competitor in the North Carolina Republican primary election for Governor. According to the results of the ECU Poll, conducted November 29 through December 1, Robinson has the support of 34% of registered Republican primary voters, followed by former prosecutor Bill Graham (8%), State Treasurer Dale Folwell (7%), and former state legislator and businessman, Andy Wells (3%). While Robinson currently holds a significant lead, nearly half of likely Republican primary voters (49%) are still undecided on which candidate they will support in the gubernatorial primary election (scheduled to take place on March 5th).

In the North Carolina Republican presidential primary, former president Donald Trump is the overwhelming favorite. When asked who they would vote for at this time, 63% percent answered Trump, followed by Nikki Haley (13%), Ron DeSantis (10%), Vivek Ramaswamy (3%), Chris Christie (2%), and Asa Hutchinson (1%). The remaining 8% are undecided. Trump’s supporters are most likely to back Mark Robinson favoring him over Bill Graham 41% to 6% (with 4% for Dale Folwell). DeSantis voters also favor Robinson by similar margins over Graham and Folwell. Yet, among Nikki Haley supporters, Folwell leads with 27% compared to 20% for Graham and 7% for Mark Robinson.


Turning to a hypothetical general election matchup between Robinson and likely Democratic nominee, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Robinson leads 44% to 40%, with 16% undecided. However, when matched against other Republicans, Stein has a slight edge on Dale Folwell, 40% to 38%, and leads Bill Graham, 42% to 39%. All of these hypothetical matchups are close enough to be considered statistically even races.

When asked to identify the most important issue facing people in North Carolina today, 42% answered inflation and/or the overall cost of living. Other issues included the economy in general (19%), new state law on abortion (10%), violent crime and/or public safety (8%), border security (6%), affordability of health care (5%), and climate change and/or the environment (4%). With inflation as the dominant issue, North Carolina voters gave low marks to President Joe Biden. Statewide, only 37% approve of President Joe Biden’s overall job performance, while 55% disapprove. Governor Roy Cooper does better with 46% job approval and 38% disapproval.

In assessing the full results of the poll, Dr. Peter Francia, Director of the ECU Center for Survey Research, remarked, “Although it is still early, Donald Trump is a near lock to win the Republican presidential primary election in North Carolina. However, there is more uncertainty in the race for governor. While Mark Robinson is certainly the favorite to be the Republican candidate, the fact that so many Republican primary voters are still undecided suggests that the nomination battle is not yet over. And, no matter who the Republican nominee is, the general election for governor should be an extremely competitive election.”


This poll was conducted November 29 through December 1, 2023. The sample consisted of completed responses from 915 registered voters in North Carolina, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3.8 percentage points. The subsample of registered Republican voters had a CI of +/- 5.4 percentage points (n=445). The data were weighted by age, education, race, gender, region, mode, and 2024 election modeling. The data for the poll were drawn an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines only (n=325), from a cellphone sample of SMS-to-web (N=199) provided by Promark Research, and an online panel provided by Cint (N=391).