Poll: Josh Stein leads Mark Robinson, with independents and some GOP crossover giving the edge

Democrat Josh Stein is leading his GOP opponent Mark Robinson with 52% support to just 44%, a Quinnipiac University poll released this week finds.

Stein’s edge is largely fueled by a lead among political independents (52% to 43%) and from some crossover support from Republicans bucking their party — Democrats support Stein 96% to 3%, while Republicans support Robinson just 87% to 8%.

When looking at the race in its entirety, including third-party candidates, Stein, the state’s current Attorney General, would receive 48%. Robinson, the current Lieutenant Governor, gets 41%, while Libertarian candidate Mike Ross is at 4% and and Green Party candidate Wayne Turner is at 2%.

“In the Governor’s race, a stunning contrast in values, experience and messaging is on display in a race that sees the Democrat ahead, but only by single digits,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy.

Robinson has been a controversial figure who has, at times, made incendiary comments about LGBTQ+ issues and women in Christian leadership. And Robinson once called former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a “heifer” and former First Lady Michelle Obama a man.

Stein, not surprisingly considering Robinson’s record of inflammatory comments, is better liked than his GOP opponent. Asked whether they like the candidates as a person, 45% said yes about Stein, with 13% saying no and 42% not providing an opinion. Meanwhile, only 40% or respondents said they like Robinson as a person, with a staggering 31% saying they don’t and 29% not offering an opinion.

Stein and Robinson are tied when it comes to whether voters think they are honest — 42% of respondents said yes to both candidates’ perceived honesty — but more people believe Robinson is dishonest, with 32% saying they didn’t think he was honest while only 23% said the same of Stein.

Stein also has a slight edge among voters’ perceptions on leadership skills, with 47% believing Stein is meeting that metric and 46% saying the same of Robinson. But Stein has more room to grow here. Only 23% of respondents said Stein didn’t have good leadership skills, leaving 30% of voters either unsure or unwilling to answer. Meanwhile, 34% of respondents didn’t endorse Robinson’s leadership skills, with only 20% who didn’t offer an opinion.

Stein also has the edge on whether the candidates care about average North Carolinians, with 52% saying Stein does and only 49% believing Robinson does.

The two are locked on whether they share North Carolinians’ values, at 38% each. But more people disagree with Robinson’s values, 45%, than Stein, 38%.

Respondents were also given a list of 11 issues and asked which among them are most important. The economy led at 27%, followed by preserving U.S. democracy at 16% and education at 13%. But there were wide gaps between political parties.

The economy dominated Republicans’ concerns, at 40%, followed by immigration at 16%, and preserving democracy, at 11%.

Democrats are more concerned with preserving democracy, at 24% and education at 14%. The economy was listed as a top concern among just 12% of respondents, while abortion ranked in the top 5, at 10%.

Independents, like Republicans, listed the economy as the most significant issue, at 30%, followed by education (15%) and preserving democracy (13%).

It’s somewhat surprising that the economy ranked so prominently among respondents. Asked to describe their personal financial situation, 60% said they were doing either excellent (9%) or good (51%), while only 38% said they weren’t doing so good (26%) or were doing poorly (12%.) But asked about the national economy, 67% of respondents describe it as not so good (30%) or poor (37%.)

“It’s a head scratcher when you do the math,” Malloy said.

Recent rulings in several states regarding abortion have buoyed the issue back to front and center ahead of this year’s Presidential Election, after the issue was considered a top reason Democrats overperformed in the 2022 Midterms.

Florida’s Supreme Court recently upheld state legislation that had been challenged banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which triggered a subsequent law that was passed banning the procedure after 6 weeks, before most women even know they’re pregnant.

That came after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that a couple could seek damages for the loss of embryos after a clinic accident, essentially declaring that embryos are unborn children. It prompted fertility clinics in the state to halt procedures helping couples conceive until legislation was passed offering protections, and it triggered intense backlash against GOP lawmakers pursuing fetal personhood measures.

And most recently, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld a restrictive abortion law passed in the 1860s, decades before Arizona achieved statehood.

Pundits expect the abortion issue to play heavily in this year’s election cycle, and Democrats are already leaning into the issue statewide. That may be the case in North Carolina, too. Asked whether abortion legal at various stages of pregnancy, 63% believed it should be legal in either all cases (27%), or most cases (36%.) Only 30% indicated abortion should be illegal in either most cases (22%) or all cases (8%).

That could affect Robinson as campaigning continues and Democrats up and down the ballot rally around the issue.

Robinson is a staunch anti-abortion leader, but he also reportedly paid for a partner to have an abortion in the late ’80s, according to Axios.

The Quinnipiac University poll was taken among 1,401 North Carolina residents who self-identified as registered voters, from April 4-8. It has a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. In early 2022, she left the business to serve as Communications Director for St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch. After leaving the administration, Janelle briefly worked as a communications consultant for candidates, businesses and non-profits, before accepting her position as Publisher for Southeast Politics, a homecoming of sorts to her Florida Politics roots, where she served as a reporter and editor for several years. Janelle has also held roles covering the intersection of politics and business for the Tampa Bay Business Journal and general assignment news with an emphasis on social justice and climate change for WMNF Community Radio, where she also hosted a political call-in show under several names, including Last Call, Midpoint and The Scoop. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]

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