Voters overwhelmingly support legislation that would legalize medical marijuana, by a 77%-17% margin
60% of voters support keeping the death penalty as a sentencing option for cases of first degree murder, as opposed to 26% who would abolish the death penalty
53% of voters support a proposal to eliminate state income taxes on overtime pay, compared with 23% who oppose this proposal
56% of voters believe that, in general, bonus pay should be tax free, while 29% believe bonus pay should continue to be taxed
66% of voters support a specific proposal to eliminate taxes on the first $2,500 of bonus pay earned by employees, while 18% oppose this proposal
Note: Questions on overtime and bonus pay were sponsored by Citizens for Tax Reform
Full Summary of Results:
Trump holds wide lead in Primary Election
As former President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis arrive in North Carolina to speak at the North Carolina Republican Party Convention this weekend, a new Opinion Diagnostics poll shows Trump holding a 22-point lead over his closest competitor for the Republican nomination for president.
When asked who they would support in the 2024 Republican primary among a field of eight current candidates, 44% of Republican primary voters selected Trump. DeSantis garnered 22%, followed by former ambassador Nikki Haley at 7%, 6% for Pence, 4% for Senator Tim Scott, and 2% for former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy both received 1%. 12% of respondents preferred an unmentioned candidate or were undecided.
Trump leads in every geographical area of the state, as well as leading in every demographic subgroup in the eight-way race.
Trump vs. DeSantis
Opinion Diagnostics also tested a hypothetical primary matchup between only President Trump and Governor DeSantis. In this scenario, 50% of primary voters chose Trump and 35% picked DeSantis. Trump increased his standing six percentage points in the one-on-one matchup compared to the eight-way race, while DeSantis gained 13 points. 16% of respondents said they were undecided between the two candidates.
Trump leads among registered Republicans by 20 points with 16% undecided. Trump holds a smaller lead among the Unaffiliated voters who are likely to vote in the Republican primary, leading by five points with 14% undecided.
Trump wins in all geographical areas of the state except for the eastern region where DeSantis leads 44% to 37%.
Bottom Line: President Trump is currently the frontrunner to capture the North Carolina primary with his lead mirroring national primary polls. However, with Trump receiving less than 50% support from primary voters in the eight-way matchup, he is in a weaker position among Republicans than he was as the incumbent president in 2020. While the seven rivals collectively garner the same amount of support as Trump, it remains to be seen if any single candidate could consolidate these supporters and win statewide. It appears likely at least one of Trump’s rivals will be awarded Republican National Convention delegates, which are allocated proportionally and determined by congressional district performance.
Trump and DeSantis vs. Biden: Both Republicans would defeat Biden
President Joe Biden would lose the swing state of North Carolina if the election were held today. Trump won North Carolina by 1.3 percentage points in 2020, and leads by three percentage points in this poll, 43% to 40%. Trump is winning by four points among Unaffiliated voters, 38%-34% with 27% saying they’d vote for someone else or are undecided.
DeSantis leads Biden by a larger margin of five percentage points in this poll, 46% to 41%. A 5-point lead could conceivably convince Democrats to move resources from North Carolina to states the incumbent president won in 2020 such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. DeSantis is winning by 17 points among Unaffiliated voters, 50%-33%, with 17% saying they’d vote for someone else or are undecided.
Both Republican candidates are winning in every geographical area except for the Raleigh region, which includes the heavy Democratic bases of Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, and Chapel Hill. Biden has some room for improvement: While he leads by a large margin among registered Democrats and African Americans, there are also a larger number of undecideds in these groups than among registered Republicans and white voters, groups where both Trump and DeSantis hold leads.
With the possibility of a credible third-party being included on the general election ballot, Opinion Diagnostics included “someone else” as an option for respondents, in addition to the two major-party candidates and “undecided.” Notably, 13% of general election voters said they would vote for “someone else” in a matchup of Trump vs. Biden and 9% answered “someone else” in the DeSantis vs. Biden matchup. While this level of support does not currently indicate a threat to a victory by either major party’s nominee, the presence of a credible third party could have an outsized impact on which party’s nominee wins, and who receives electoral votes in a winner-take-all contest.
Bottom Line: North Carolina continues to lean towards supporting the Republican nominee for President, as has occurred in the past three Presidential elections.
At this point, Governor DeSantis is the stronger general election candidate against President Biden as compared to President Trump. DeSantis’ position is bolstered by his 17-point lead over Biden among Unaffiliated voters and Biden’s poor performance among younger voters when matched up against DeSantis. Younger voters are usually a reliable base for Democrats, but trends seen in public and private polling for over a year indicate this support base is eroding in North Carolina for Biden.
Republican Gubernatorial Primary: Robinson leading big
Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson leads by a considerable margin for the Republican nomination for governor over his competitors, former Congressman Mark Walker and state Treasurer Dale Folwell.
44% of respondents picked Robinson in a three-way race, with Mark Walker and Dale Folwell garnering 7% and 4% respectively.
Bottom Line: Robinson is currently in a strong position to secure the Republican Party’s nomination for governor. However, with 56% of primary voters supporting Walker, Folwell, another candidate, or undecided, there is an opening for another candidate to wrest the nomination away from Robinson. There is also an opening for Robinson to build on his lead and earn an overwhelming primary victory similar to the last two Republican nominees: Former Governor Pat McCrory and former Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest.
NOTE: A primary candidate must receive 30% of the vote plus one to avoid a runoff.
General Election for Governor: Robinson leading
Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson leads Attorney General Josh Stein 41% to 38%. Republicans and Democrats both equally support their frontrunners against the potential other party’s nominee by 60 percentage points. Unaffiliateds give Robinson a 16-point edge, though 13% are undecided.
White voters support Robinson by 17 points with 13% undecided. African American voters support Stein by 50 points. For Stein to improve his standing, he will need to win the support of the 23% of African Americans who are currently undecided, as well as secure more support from women, whom he leads by two points with 16% undecided.
Stein leads among voters 18-44 years old while Robinson leads among those 45 and older. Robinson leads in four of the five geographic regions of the state, with Stein leading in the Raleigh region.
Bottom Line: As of today, North Carolina is tracking toward a third consecutive gubernatorial race (and fourth out of the last five) decided by less than five points. The last runaway win by a governor was Pat McCrory’s 11.4-point victory in 2012.
North Carolina Public Policy Issues
Opinion Diagnostics tested three public policy issues being discussed in North Carolina: Medical marijuana, the death penalty, and taxes.
Medical Marijuana: By an overwhelming 77% to 17% margin, North Carolinians support a bill recently passed by the state Senate, and awaiting a vote in the House, to legalize marijuana in cases in which a doctor prescribes it for the purpose of alleviating pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with several debilitating medical conditions. A large majority of voters of every region, race or ethnicity, age, gender, and party support legalization of medical marijuana.
North Carolina Death Penalty: While the state has not carried out an execution since 2006 due to a variety of concerns, North Carolinians strongly support keeping capital punishment as a sentencing option for first degree murder by a 60% to 26% margin. The spread of +34 in support of capital punishment is a slight increase from the+32% spread discovered in a 2019 poll. North Carolinians would presumably support restarting executions through legislation or constitutional amendment.
Eliminate State Income Tax on Overtime Pay: By a 53% to 23% margin, North Carolinians support a bill being debated in the state legislature to eliminate state income tax on pay earned during overtime hours. This +30 spread in favor of the proposed policy is an increase from +22 discovered in a 2019 poll. Republicans, Unaffiliateds, and Democrats all support this measure as well as all ethnic demographics, including 66% of African American voters.
Eliminate State Income Tax on Bonus Pay Generally: 56% of respondents said, in general, employee bonus pay should no longer be taxed by the state, compared to 29% who said bonus pay should continue to be taxed by the state. This +37-point spread in favor of the proposed policy is an increase from the +11-point spread discovered in a 2019 poll.
Eliminate State Income Tax on Bonus Pay of Up To $2,500: In order to refine the bonus pay question, Opinion Diagnostics shared similar language to a bill being debated in the state legislature that would eliminate state income tax on bonus pay on only the first $2,500 earned by employees. This initiative was very popular with 66% supporting and 18% opposing. Every demographic group supports this idea, including 70% of Republicans, 62% of Democrats, and 68% of Unaffiliateds. 62% of white voters and 75% of African American voters support the legislation.
Note: Questions on overtime and bonus pay were sponsored by Citizens for Tax Reform.
Significance of the North Carolina Republican Presidential Primary
The North Carolina Republican Presidential Primary will be held in less than a year on Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024. North Carolina has 75 delegates allocated proportionally to the Republican National Convention, well above the median of the combined 56 states and U.S. territories that send delegates.
All 14 congressional districts award three delegates each. A candidate who wins 67% of a congressional district wins all three delegates; otherwise the highest vote earner receives two delegates and the next highest vote earner wins one delegate. The remaining 33 delegates are at-large.
Additionally, only California and Texas will award more delegates than North Carolina on Super Tuesday. The North Carolina primary falls early on the calendar, with only five states scheduled to select delegates before March 5, 2024. In 2016, Donald Trump received his highest share of the vote in North Carolina, with 40% support, followed by Ted Cruz at 37%.
Opinion Diagnostics conducted a poll of likely General Election voters with a subsample of likely Republican Presidential Preference Primary voters in North Carolina. The survey was fielded on June 5- 7, 2023. The sample size of the poll was n=902 likely general election voters and the subsample was n=408 likely Republican primary voters. The margin of error for the general election poll is ±3.3% and the margin of error for the primary election subsample is ±4.8%. The poll was conducted via mixed-mode methodology with outreach via live operator calls, IVR calls, and outbound SMS messages directing to an online form. The sample was screened for likelihood to vote in North Carolina Presidential-year general and Republican Presidential Preference Primary elections. Respondent data was processed with Multi-Electorate Weighting™ to match the demographics of those that voted in the 2020, 2016, and 2012 North Carolina general elections and the 2020, 2016, and 2012 North Carolina Presidential Preference Primaries, as well as the average demographic attributes of the electorate across each set of three elections. Results are presented in this topline document and in ClearTabs™, Opinion Diagnostics’ proprietary crosstabulation format.