With North Carolina voters scheduled to go to the polls in less than a month, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are the ones to beat here in their respective presidential primaries, according to an Elon University Poll released Monday.
And the winner between the real estate tycoon and the former secretary of state if the general election were now instead of in November?
Clinton would beat Trump, 47 percent to 41 percent, in North Carolina, says the survey conducted Feb. 15-19.
In the North Carolina governor’s race, the Elon Poll findings put Democrat Roy Cooper, the state’s attorney general, slightly ahead of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, 42 percent to 40 percent, though the difference is within the margin of error.
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Much could change in the presidential race before the N.CNorth Carolina primary on March 15. A host of states will hold their votes on Super Tuesday next week and on March 8.
For now, the Elon Poll found that, in North Carolina, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are trailing Trump among GOP registered voters and independents who lean Republican. The numbers: Trump, 28 percent; Cruz, 19 percent; Rubio, 16 percent; Dr. Ben Carson, 10 percent; and Gov. John Kasich, 7 percent. The N.C. survey was conducted before last Saturday’s South Carolina primary, so Gov. Jeb Bush, who has since dropped out of the race, got 4 percent.
Both Rubio and Cruz do better than Trump against Clinton in head-to-head matchups, according to the poll. Rubio would beat her, 48 percent to 45 percent, while Cruz and Clinton are neck-and-neck – 46 percent each – in a hypothetical contest for North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes.
Among Democratic primary voters, Clinton leads Sen. Bernie Sanders, 47 percent to 37 percent. In November’s Elon Poll, her margin against Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, was much bigger: 33 points.
Among North Carolina voters who are registered Democrats, Clinton is the overwhelming favorite, 58 percent to 28 percent. But Sanders’ lead over Clinton among independents who lean Democratic is equally huge, 65 percent to 25 percent.
In hypothetical matchups with Republicans, Sanders is ahead of Trump (48 percent to 40 percent) and Cruz (47 percent to 43 percent). But, like Clinton, he trails Rubio (43 percent to 46 percent).
In all of the races, there are still many voters who are undecided: 15 percent in the GOP presidential primary; 14 percent in the Democratic presidential primary; and 16 percent in the head-to-head between Cooper and McCrory.
The Elon University Poll started two days after the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, so respondents were also asked what they thought should happen with a replacement.
Their answer: 57 percent said President Barack Obama should nominate a new justice, while 35 percent said it should be left to the next president to do the nominating.
Most Republicans in the survey – 67 percent – favored waiting for the next president, while most Democrats (84 percent) and independents (57 percent) who were polled supported the idea of Obama making the nomination.
Elon surveyed a total of 1,530 likely voters. The margin of error: 2.51 percentage points.
The margin was slightly higher – just over 3.5 percentage points – on questions asked of just Republican primary voters and just Democratic primary voters.