Poll: HB 2 dragging down McCrory in gubernatorial race

Published 2:04 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2016

By Josh Bergeron 

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — House Bill 2 has become a major issue in North Carolina’s gubernatorial race, according to the latest survey from Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling.

As the state’s gubernatorial race remains close, a poll released Wednesday shows that a plurality of voters are opposed to House Bill 2, which contains a controversial provision requiring people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificate. As a result of House Bill 2, a plurality of voters also say they’re less likely to vote for incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory in this year’s gubernatorial race.

“If not for HB2, Pat McCrory might be favored for reelection right now,” said Dean Debnam, president of left-leaning Public Policy Polling. “But that issue extinguished any remaining chance he had of getting the kind of support from Democrats and independents that he did in 2012, and now he’s fighting an uphill battle to get a second term.”

McCrory’s battle with Democratic opponent and Attorney General Roy Cooper is essentially tied, according to Public Policy Polling’s results. The Real Clear Politics polling average also shows the race as essentially tied.

In the Wednesday poll, Cooper had a 43 percent to 42 percent advantage over McCrory. Libertarian candidate Lon Cecil drew 4 percent of the support. The poll shows 11 percent of voters are undecided.

Public Policy Polling’s latest survey interviewed 830 likely voters from Aug. 5 to 7. The largest portion of those surveyed described themselves as moderate. The next highest portion of participants in the survey described themselves as very conservative.

In response to Wednesday’s poll, McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz dolled out criticism of Public Policys Polling’s political slant.

“PPP is a left leaning poll aimed at solely at helping Democrats and isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on,” Diaz said in an email. “They actually share an office with Roy Cooper’s SuperPAC and their methodology has been questioned by polling experts. We suggest that people follow RRR polling (polling of Republicans for Republicans by Republicans) because at least they are upfront about their bias.”

RRR polling is a fake polling group started by the McCrory campaign. It released a poll in January 2016, for example, that proclaimed McCrory led Cooper by 85 points.

Voters interviewed by Public Policy Polling as part of the Wednesday survey overwhelmingly said House Bill 2 is hurting North Carolina more than it’s helping. A total of 58 percent said it’s hurting the state’s economy. By comparison, a Public Policy Polling survey two months ago found that 49 percent of voters thought House Bill 2 was hurting the state.

“The high profile cancellation of the NBA All Star Game may be helping to fuel those numbers,” Public Policy Polling says in a news release.

Other findings in the latest Public Policy Polling Survey include:

• A tight race for U.S. Senate

Republican Sen. Richard Burr leads Democrat challenger Deborah Ross by a count of 41 percent to 37 percent. Libertarian Sean Haugh received 5 percent of the support in Public Policy Polling’s latest survey.

Burr has a 28 percent approval rating, according to the survey. Ross, however, has a large portion of voters — 39 percent — who don’t have an opinion about her.

“Deborah Ross is pretty unknown right now, so voters aren’t sure yet if they see her as being a better alternative or not,” Debnam said. “One thing for sure is that this race should be getting more national attention, though.”

• A tie for the lieutenant governor’s race

Republican Dan Forest, the incumbent, and Democrat challenger Linda Coleman are both tied at 37 percent.

• Democrat Josh Stein has 39 percent support compared to Republican Buck Newton’s 38 percent support in the North Carolina attorney general race.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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