RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Former President Donald Trump and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson maintain commanding leads in their respective races ahead of North Carolina’s March primary, according to a new poll of Republican voters released this week.
The conservative John Locke Foundation found Trump dominates the field of presidential candidates, with 52 percent of likely Republican primary voters supporting him. He’s maintained roughly the same level of support since another poll in April as he faces multiple criminal indictments.
The poll also shows that since the spring, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has lost support as 12 percent of primary voters back him. That’s down from 22 percent in April. Former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has gained support, with 11 percent of Republican voters backing her now.
“Trump still has a hold on North Carolina Republicans,” said Locke CEO Donald Bryson, in a statement accompanying the poll. “With a lead like this, it is hard to imagine what would be required for another Republican candidate to pass him in the polls to win North Carolina’s GOP delegates.”
The pollsters asked Republican voters whether they consider themselves “more of a Trump Republican” or “more of a traditional conservative Republican” and found that Republicans were almost evenly split on that question.
In the gubernatorial race, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has a commanding lead similar to Trump. The two are supporting one another in their respective races.
Robinson leads the Republican primary field with 49 percent of voters backing him. The next closest competitor is state Treasurer Dale Folwell, who has 5 percent support. Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker is the choice for 4 percent of Republican voters. At this point, about 41 percent of voters are still undecided.
“Everyone else is trying to scratch to get a handful of percentage points,” said Mitch Kokai, senior political analyst at the John Locke Foundation. “Even if they all decided we’re just going to have one anti-Robinson candidate, it doesn’t look like they have on their own enough of a chance to get to 50 percent plus one.”
Walker spent much of the summer trying to rally opposition to a proposal to legalize more casinos, including in Rockingham County, which is home of Republican State Senate leader Phil Berger.
Berger ultimately abandoned the idea of including the gambling proposal in the state budget as he faced resistance from some in his own party.
WhileRobinson declined to state his position on the issue publicly during that process, the poll indicates there’s been no significant change in the dynamics of the race. Once Berger announced the casinos would not be included in the budget, Robinson said in a radio interview that he opposed the plan, according to WGHP.
“Walker has kind of gone somewhat on the offensive in this campaign calling out Mark Robinson, but that hasn’t really helped him,” said Kokai.
NC General Assembly
The people who were surveyed were also asked several questions regarding the state legislature.
The General Assembly has been in session since January. Republican leaders have indicated they think they’ll wrap up substantive work this month if they enact new maps of North Carolina’s Congressional and state legislative districts.
The pollsters informed people taking part in the survey that North Carolina is among 11 states with no specific limit on the length of its legislative sessions.
When asked about that issue, 51 percent of Republican primary voters say they would support a limit while 15 percent oppose that. The rest said neither or were unsure.
A large majority said they support the idea of term limits for the leaders of the legislature.
House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) is in his fifth term and is the longest-serving Speaker in state history. He has announced he will not seek re-election in 2024. While it’s long been rumored he’ll run for Congress, he has not said definitively what his plans are.
Berger has led the Senate since Republicans took the majority in 2011.
In the survey, 86 percent of Republican voters said they support term limits for those positions.
“Basically everyone thinks that there should be a limit on the amount of time that people serve in these leadership positions,” said Kokai. “That really is dependent on the lawmakers themselves. It’s not going to be something that voters are likely going to force them to do. They will have to decide on their own.”
While Moore and Berger wield significant power in the state given their time in office and the veto-proof supermajority their party has, most Republican voters don’t have strong opinions about them.
A combined 65 percent said they either had no opinion or had never heard of Berger. As for Moore, 71 percent said they had no opinion or had never heard of him.