Trump and Robinson have landslide leads among Republicans

Published October 12, 2023

By Civitas Poll

With less than sixty days until candidate filing begins, the John Locke Foundation polled likely North Carolina Republican Primary voters to gauge support for 2024’s candidates. The results showed run-away leads for presidential and gubernatorial nominees, but the Lt. Governor’s and Labor Commissioner’s races have high numbers of undecideds. 

A majority of likely Republican voters in the state (51.8%) said they would support former president Donald Trump in the primaries. That is nearly a 40-point lead over the next closest candidate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who garnered 12% of the vote. In third place was former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (10.4%), followed by Vivek Ramaswamy (5.2%), Chris Christie (3.7%), Mike Pence (2.9%), Tim Scott (25), and lastly, Asa Hutchinson (0.5%). Women are less likely to support Trump than men and are more likely to remain undecided in the presidential race. 

“Trump still has a hold on North Carolina Republicans,” said Locke CEO Donald Bryson. “With a lead like this, it is hard to imagine what would be required for another Republican candidate to pass him in the polls to win North Carolina’s GOP delegates.” 

The gubernatorial race came out similarly, with 48.6% of likely GOP voters choosing Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson – a 43.7-point lead on the next closest candidate, Treasurer Dale Folwell (4.9%). Former Congressman Mark Walker came in third place with 4.1% support. However, a significant percentage (41.2%) of voters are still undecided in this race. Urban areas have the most undecided voters (55%) in the gubernatorial race. By contrast, rural areas are the most decided, with majority support (55%) favoring Mark Robinson. When voters were asked what issues were the most important to them in the governor’s race, budget and taxes made the top of the list, followed closely by immigration.  

The lieutenant governor and labor commissioner races had the most undecided voters, with more than 80% of voters stating they were unsure who they would vote for in these elections. The top candidate for Labor Commissioner was State Representative Jon Hardister (5.3%), followed by former Union County Board of Commissioners candidate Travis Wilson and Wake County attorney Luke Farley (3.3% and 2.7%, respectively). While no lieutenant governor candidate cracked 5% support, the top contenders were Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page (4%), former Lieutenant Governor Chief of Staff Hal Weatherman (3.8%), and former State Senator Deanna Ballard (3.1%). 

“Outside of the president and governor’s race, there is a lot of room to gain ground,” Bryson continued. “If I were a candidate in one of those races, I would be hitting the pavement and trying to improve my awareness of my campaign as much as possible. Name ID will be critical in these down-ballot Council of State races.” 

Another opportunity for raising awareness is certificate-of-need (CON) laws. These state regulations require healthcare providers to prove the necessity of new facilities or services before they can expand or open new locations. Less than a third of survey participants were familiar with CON laws. Most participants (54.7%) were unsure whether CON laws helped or harmed access to healthcare services, and only 8.1% believed that CON laws improved access. While most participants were unsure whether the state should repeal its CON laws, of those who did have an opinion, respondents favored repeal by a 4:1 margin. 

Similarly, nearly two-thirds of voters were not aware that North Carolina has no defined session limits for our state legislature. Most voters would support session limits (51.3%), while only 14.7% would oppose. Support for session limits is eleven points higher among women than men. The vast majority of respondents would like to see term limits bind the General Assembly leadership. Nearly 86% of respondents would support term limits, while less than five percent would oppose. A plurality of likely GOP primary voters (43.8%) believe the state legislature’s leadership should be capped at two terms (four years). The responses of likely GOP primary voters are very similar to the state’s general voting population who, in last month’s poll, were 85% in support of term limits and showed plurality support for a four-year cap on leadership tenure.