Under the Dome

Latest poll: Cooper gains lead over McCrory in NC governor’s race

North Carolina Attorney General, Roy Cooper and Republican incumbent Pat McCrory.
North Carolina Attorney General, Roy Cooper and Republican incumbent Pat McCrory. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Attorney General Roy Cooper has a growing lead over Gov. Pat McCrory in their race for governor, a new poll shows.

While previous surveys have shown the candidates neck-and-neck within a margin of error, the new Elon University Poll gives Cooper a 48-42 percent lead. The margin of error in this survey was just under 4 percent. Cooper had a 3-point advantage in an average of the three most recent polls.

According to the Elon poll, McCrory’s job approval rating was 37 percent, compared to 49 percent who said they disapprove of the job he is doing. Close to 14 percent said they didn’t know or were unsure.

Nearly 43 percent of registered voters said they approved of the job Cooper is doing, while 27 percent disapprove, and 30 percent said they didn’t know or were unsure.

Elon pollsters say that is McCrory’s lowest approval rating since first polled two years ago.

The survey of 692 residents included 621 who said they were registered to vote. The poll did not survey for likely voters, which is a more accurate method. The poll was taken from April 10 to 15, and was conducted on land lines and cell phones. The numbers mentioned above are from self-identified registered voters, and the results have a 3.93 percent margin of error, the university said.

▪ On the controversial LGBT ordinance known as HB2, the survey found 49 percent of respondents said the state should prohibit cities from passing ordinances like Charlotte did, allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the sex the identify with. Thirty-nine percent said cities should be allowed to enact policies like that, and 11 percent said they don’t know.

Nearly two-thirds of those who said they were born-again Christians support state prohibitions on “bathroom bill” ordinances; 49 percent of Catholics feel that way, and 46 percent identified as “other Christians” do also. Sixty-three percent of those who said they were not religious think cities should be able to enact their own ordinances.

▪ U.S. Sen. Richard Burr leads Democratic challenger Deborah Ross 37-33 percent. According to Keith Fernandez, the poll’s director, both candidates are strongly supported by their party’s base, but independents are lining up with Burr by a 34-27 percent margin; 15 percent said they don’t know who they will support.

“North Carolina has a history of not re-electing its U.S. senators,” Fernandez said in a statement released with the poll results. “Democrat Kay Hagan lost in 2014 and it was Hagan who had made Elizabeth Dole a one-term senator before that. Several others had all lost re-election bids and were one-term senators prior to Dole. Burr is one of the few senators in recent history, besides the late Jesse Helms, to have won re-election, and many political analysts believe he has a good shot at repeating that in 2016.”

▪ The Elon Poll also came up with interesting numbers on the presidential race.

Even though former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary in North Carolina in March, it’s Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who would defeat Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in a hypothetical contest in this state.

The poll found Sanders would defeat Trump 51-38, and Cruz by 49-39 percent. Clinton would also beat Trump, 45-39 percent, but would lose to Cruz 44-41 percent.