“Trumping” North Carolina; Grayson In

July 10, 2015 — Public Policy Polling tested the electorate in their home state of North Carolina (July 2-6; 529 registered North Carolina voters; 288 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters; 286 likely North Carolina Democratic primary voters), a monthly practice for the firm, and detected a new Republican leader moving to the forefront.

Though the GOP candidates are tightly bunched here as polls detect in all key primary states – meaning the 16 tested candidates fall within 16 points from top to bottom – the PPP North Carolina survey finds that businessman Donald Trump has captured first place. This is the first study producing such a result.

Trump attracts 16 percent support from the North Carolina polling respondents with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker each four points behind at 12 percent. Ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee closely follows with 11 percent, while Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio poll nine percent apiece, and Sen. Rand Paul registers seven percent. The remaining nine candidates fall between 0 and six percent with two contenders, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and ex-New York Gov. George Pataki, each finding no supporters within this North Carolina polling sample.

Turning to the favorability index, all candidates but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie score in positive territory. Trump, for example, posts a 55:32 percent positive to negative ratio according to the Republican sample, his best showing anywhere.

On the Democratic side, the poll projects what we are typically seeing in the northern primary states. Hillary Clinton scores 55 percent support, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 20 percent. All of the remaining minor candidates do no better than seven percent (former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb). Vice President Joe Biden was not included in this survey.

In general election match-ups, Republicans generally fare well against Clinton in the Tar Heel State. In no configuration does any candidate reach the 50 percent plateau. Huckabee fares best against the former Secretary of State and First Lady, notching a 49-45 percent advantage. Gov. Walker also has a four-point lead over her, 47-43 percent. Dr. Carson tops Clinton by three percentage points; senators Rubio and Paul edge her by one, while businesswoman Carly Fiorina and the presumed Democratic nominee tie. Hillary Clinton leads the remaining Republican candidates by between one and three points.

Trump leading this poll is likely just a blip, probably because the flamboyant businessman is currently attracting more media attention than any other candidate. His chances of eventually capturing the nomination remain poor, but he is making the early primary election phase very interesting and highly entertaining.

Florida Senate

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) ended speculation that he would run for the Senate with an official announcement yesterday. The congressman enters the race to directly challenge Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18), who enjoys state and national Democratic Party institutional support.

Grayson will likely have sufficient funds to compete – he maintains a managing interest in a successful hedge fund, which makes him a multi-millionaire. He will attempt to stake out the far left faction within the Florida Democratic constituency, and then find enough common ground with the at-large Sunshine State party base to propel him over Murphy.

Democratic leaders were hoping favored pick would become a consensus candidate, but such will not happen. Grayson will now force Murphy to spend substantial campaign resources and effort into capturing the party nomination. The general election promises to be highly competitive. The Florida Senate race has the potential of evolving into the nation’s top statewide campaign.

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