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Elon Poll: N.C. Primary Voters Favor Trump and Clinton, With a Twist

Real estate mogul Donald Trump currently carries the most support among Republicans in the state’s upcoming presidential primary election, but according to the latest Elon University Poll, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would top Trump among North Carolina voters if the general election were held today.

Yet Clinton isn’t a hands-down favorite to win North Carolina in next year’s presidential election. The same poll found that two other Republican candidates for the presidency, retired surgeon Ben Carson and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, would defeat Clinton in a hypothetical matchup.

For Carson, the difference comes among Independents and women, both groups that support him in greater number than Clinton. African-Americans also would support Carson in greater numbers than they would Bush or Trump.

And while not as strong, Bush would also pull more support than Clinton in a hypothetical match-up. This is a change from an April 2015 poll that had Clinton ahead by 3 points over Bush.

The Elon University Poll’s live-caller, dual frame (landline and cell phone) survey of 1,258 residents – of which 1,075 said they were registered to vote – was conducted Sept. 17-21, 2015. The survey had a margin of error of 2.99 percentage points for all respondents, 4.31 percentage points among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, and 4.74 percentage points among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters.

“The GOP needs North Carolina if they want to win the White House,” said Assistant Professor Jason Husser, assistant director of the Elon University Poll. “This survey suggests Trump would likely lose to Clinton in the Old North State. However, other Republican candidates have grounds for success.”


2016 Republican Presidential Primary

  • Donald Trump: 22 percent
  • Ben Carson: 21 percent
  • Carly Fiorina: 10 percent
  • Marco Rubio: 7 percent
  • Jeb Bush: 7 percent
  • Ted Cruz: 6 percent
  • Mike Huckabee: 4 percent
  • Chris Christie: 2 percent
  • John Kasich: 2 percent
  • Rand Paul: 2 percent
  • Scott Walker: 2 percent (Walker suspended his campaign on the last day of polling)
  • Rick Santorum: 1 percent
  • Lindsey Graham: .2 percent

Thirteen percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters said they were undecided on which candidate they will support. No one in the survey said they planned to support George Pataki, Bobby Jindal or Jim Gilmore.

2016 Democratic Presidential Primary

  • Hillary Clinton: 53 percent
  • Bernie Sanders: 23 percent
  • Jim Webb: 2 percent
  • Lincoln Chafee: 1 percent
  • Lawrence Lessig: 1 percent
  • Martin O’Malley: .2 percent

Seventeen percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning registered voters said they were undecided on which candidate they will support.

The Elon University Poll did not ask survey respondents about Vice President Joe Biden because he has not formally announced any plans for 2016.

Head-to-Head Match-Ups

Q: If the 2016 presidential election was between Republican Jeb Bush & Democrat Hilary Clinton who would you vote for?

Bush: 46 percent

Clinton: 43 percent

Neither/Someone Else: 7 percent

Don’t Know: 4 percent

Q: If the 2016 presidential election was between Republican Ben Carson & Democrat Hilary Clinton who would you vote for?

Carson: 52 percent

Clinton: 41 percent

Neither/Someone Else: 3 percent

Don’t Know: 4 percent

Q: If the 2016 presidential election was between Republican Donald Trump & Democrat Hilary Clinton who would you vote for?

Clinton: 47 percent

Trump: 40 percent

Neither/Someone Else: 10 percent

Don’t Know: 3 percent


It is a statistical dead heat for incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who currently holds a 1 point advantage over Democrat Roy Cooper in the latest survey of voters who plan to cast ballots next year for North Carolina governor. McCrory is favored 43-42 over Cooper, the state’s attorney general, in the latest Elon University Poll, with 11 percent of registered voters saying they don’t know whom to support.

McCrory commands stronger support among men (49 percent), whites (50 percent), and Independents (44 percent). Cooper pulls more support from women (47 percent) and African-Americans (68 percent).


Support for access to abortions had been growing in North Carolina since April 2014, but the trend reversed itself in the most recent Elon University Poll. More registered voters now believe access to abortion should be made more difficult (45 percent) than those who believe access should be made less difficult (41 percent).

“For the past two years the Elon Poll has observed a trend of increased public support for making access to an abortion easier,” said Kenneth Fernandez, director of the Elon University Poll.  “However, public sentiment appears to have changed recently in North Carolina. This new survey shows more voters prefer increasing restrictions on access to an abortion. This may be a response to the increased negative media attention Planned Parenthood has received in recent months.”

Just over 46 percent of registered voters oppose same-sex marriage in the most recent poll, compared to almost 42 percent who support it. The findings are in line with other recent Elon University Poll surveys.


The Elon University Poll conducts frequent statewide surveys on issues of importance to North Carolinians. Information from these polls is shared with media, citizens and public officials to facilitate informed public policymaking through the better understanding of citizens’ opinions and attitudes.