ELON, N.C. (WGHP) – North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, fresh off the quasi-endorsement from former President Donald Trump, can take some encouragement from some new poll data: North Carolina voters know him better than the other Republicans running for governor and like him just fine.
First things first: Trump used his speech last weekend at the North Carolina Republican Convention in Greensboro to promise to endorse Robinson, which is no surprise given how closely they are aligned in so many ways.
Robinson heard Trump say that the formal endorsement would come soon – “You can count on it, Mark” – and then called Robinson “one of the great stars in politics.”
Robinson then learned this week that 64% of registered voters surveyed by the Elon University Poll said they were at least somewhat familiar with him, with 1 in 4 saying “very familiar,” which is far better than 46%/11% for former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro and 39%/10% for state Treasurer Dale Folwell of Winston-Salem, the two men battling him for the GOP nomination.
Attorney General Josh Stein, the only Democrat in the field so far, was known by 58% at least somewhat, with about 1 in 5 “very familiar.”
All four men showed good favorability ratings – between 59% for Walker and 63% for Stein – but when pollsters overlaid the two numbers, Robinson (45%) was about the same as Stein (44%) but better than Walker (35%) and Folwell (31%).
“Bottom line to me, contrary to what some might want to believe, to know Mark Robinson is not to dislike him,” said Chris Cooper, director of the Public Policy Institute at Western Carolina University who also coauthors a statewide political blog. “Among Republicans, his unfavorable numbers are very low — almost identical to Walker and Folwell’s. A very good result for Robinson.”
Robinson, serving in his first and only elected office, is known for his outspoken frankness and take-no-prisoners approach to social issues. He became famous for preaching to a mass of gun owners at a Greensboro City Council meeting in a social media video gone viral after the council banned gun sales on city property following the Parkland school shooting in 2018.
He has a long record of outrageous comments in speeches and social media that have made him a focal point for scorn for burnishing his brash approach to a variety of societal topics, including the LGBTQ community, gun rights, abortion rights, climate change and public education, to name a few.
Both Walker, who served three terms in Congress, and Folwell, who was in the General Assembly before being elected treasurer in 2017, entered the race because they want Republicans to have a choice other than a man they think would be ill-suited to succeed Gov. Roy Cooper and become the fourth Republican to serve as governor.
Elon surveyed 1,268 registered voters during the first week of June – before Trump’s endorsement – and weighted the results for the usual demographic and affiliation variables, including 2020 voting record. Its “credibility rating” is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
More on governor candidates
Two out of three Republicans rate Robinson as at least somewhat favorable, and he is most popular among younger, white, educated males. Older men tend not to like him, but surprisingly, about 3 in 10 Republicans aren’t familiar with him. If elected, he would be the state’s first Black governor, but nearly half of registered Black voters are unfamiliar with him, and 1 in 4 rate him unfavorable.
Walker does well with Black voters – about 3 in 10 like him and only 13% find him unfavorable – but his overall strength is among voters 44 and younger. He also does slightly better among women.
Folwell is seen as favorable by 40% of Republicans and is most popular with younger, better-educated white males. Despite his long government service, about 6 in 10 Republicans don’t know who he is.
Stein, who has served two terms as attorney general, has a broad base of support, particularly among higher educated voters (51%) and younger voters. Among Democrats, he has only a 2% unfavorable rating, but 3 in 10 don’t know who he is.
U.S. News & World Report this week rated North Carolina’s 2024 race for governor as a toss-up. The magazine called the race “the marquee contest of 2024.”
Like Robinson, Trump, who is seeking a third GOP nomination despite a spate of legal issues, has the highest favorability among registered voters and is far better known than anyone else in the 9-person GOP field (at the time of the polling).
Trump’s favorability rating is 45%, with is trailed by his former vice president, Mike Pence (39%), Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (36%) and former South Carolina gov. Nikki Haley (32%), South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (28%) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (21%) follow.
But Trump (52%) and Pence (51%) also have the highest unfavorability ratings. Christie, who is one of the few candidates openly attacking Trump on the campaign trail, is just behind (49%), followed by DeSantis (44%) and Haley (34%).
If you calculate a net favorability rating, Trump leads at 61%, followed by DeSantis (41%), Haley and Scott (23%) and Pence (19%). Christie is the worst, at -23%.
For most, name recognition is a key. Trump is known by 99% of the voters and Pence by 91%. DeSantis is known by 84%, Christie by 66%, Haley by 64% and Scott by 50%. But the rest are known by no more than 4 in 10.
Hudson backs Trump
Even after he was indicted on 37 felony charges related to taking, retaining and lying to cover up his possession of dozens of top-secret documents – adding to a plethora of legal issues – Trump continues to get wide support from Republican elected officials.
Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Southern Pines), who represents the 8th Congressional District, announced at the state convention and on social media that he was “proud to endorse President Trump.”
Hudson also is chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and he told NPR reporter Deidre K. Walsh that he didn’t think the indictments would hurt the GOP’s chances of retaining control of the House in 2024.
“I think he would help because he would turn out voters that normally wouldn’t turn out,” he said.
Manning touts immigration bill
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), who is in her second term representing the 6th District, continues to tout the bipartisan immigration bill that six women – three Republicans and three Democrats – recently introduced and are trying to move through the House.
She pushes a broad bill that addresses securing borders, providing asylum and clearing legal logjams. She called the bill a great start at working together. “There are things I liked and things that I didn’t like [in the bill],” she told WGHP.
But she also cited the need to have more workers and how the bill’s structured path to citizenship could help with that.
“No matter where I go in my district, there is a workforce shortage,” she said. “Rural areas, with farmers, community colleges, hospitals and – in urban areas – manufacturing facilities.
“We simply don’t have enough workers. This bill helps address that issue by providing more legal pathways.”
- Hudson on Friday brought members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security for a field hearing in Moore County, which earlier this year endured an electrical shutdown after an attack on the power grid.
- Associate Justice Anita Earls, one of two Democrats remaining on the North Carolina Supreme Court, whose opinions about election maps and voter ID were overturned in a rehearing by the new GOP majority, had terse advice for voters in an interview with NC Newsline: “What I want people to know, from my experience of doing voting rights work for almost 30 years, basically, is that good turnout can overcome a bad gerrymander. If we had a wave election in this state in which the voter turnout was much higher than it has been, then the gerrymandering couldn’t have the same effect. So that’s important to keep in mind and not get discouraged.”
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) co-sponsored the “End Child Trafficking Now Act,” which would require a DNA test to determine the relationship between adults and children crossing the border together. He said in an announcement that “the Biden Administration reportedly ended all DNA family testing at the border last week on May 31, 2023.”
- Tillis, Sen. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) and Rep. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) took credit for helping win a $2.5 million grant from the Department of Labor to help about 1,300 workers affected by the closing of Pactiv Evergreen paper mill in Canton. There’s a chance the subsidy could rise to $7.5 million.