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Marshall leads Burr (barely) in latest campaign poll



To: Interested Parties
From: Celinda Lake and Joshua Ulibarri
Re: Polling in the North Carolina Senate Race
Date: July 22, 2010

A recent Lake Research Partners survey of likely voters in this year’s general election shows incumbent Republican Richard Burr very weak and extremely vulnerable to defeat. Barely a third of voters view him favorably or think he is doing an excellent or good job, and only one in four are committed to reelecting him. In short, he is the most vulnerable incumbent Republican Senator in the country and this seat represents a prime pickup opportunity as Democrats seek to hold control of the Senate. Elaine Marshall is in a strong position to defeat Burr if she has the funds to competitively communicate her message.

The horserace is ominous for Burr. A month after her impressive win in the Democratic runoff, Marshall holds a slight lead with 37% compared to 35% for Burr. Libertarian candidate Mike Beitler takes 5% support and 23% of voters are undecided.

Voters have abandoned Burr and he trails in the ballot for these reasons:

• Forty-three percent of voters hold a personally unfavorable view of Senator Burr, compared to just 34% who view him favorably; and voter intensity tips toward the very unfavorable (25%) rather than the very favorable (just 11%).

• Senator Burr’s job performance ratings suffer. A whopping majority of 58% of voters believe he is doing a just fair or poor job. Only 25% believe he is doing an excellent or good job. In fact, five times as many voters (30%) believe he is doing a poor job as believe he is doing an excellent job (just 6%).

• Only a quarter of voters (25%) say they will definitely vote to reelect Senator Burr, leaving 75% of voters who will definitely vote to replace him (31%), or consider someone else or do not know (44%).

• The political environment is horrible for Senator Burr and he will have a difficult time separating himself from the disappointment voters have with Washington. Seventy-two percent of voters describe their feelings about the way things are going in the country as “concerned”, “frustrated”, or “angry”. As the previous data indicate, voters see Burr as remarkably symbolic of their disappointment.

• Furthermore, on the issues voters care about the most, Senator Burr’s job performance is lacking. Majorities of voters believe he is doing a just fair or poor job on the economy and jobs, regulating Wall Street and big banks, Social Security and retirement security, and the deficit.

In sum, Senator Burr is in deep trouble. Only a quarter of voters are willing to defend him while the plurality dislikes him and the majority believes he is doing a just fair or poor job.

In contrast to Senator Burr, Marshall carries little of the baggage that he has to endure. In a year when voters are frustrated with Washington, Marshall has credibility as an agent for change. She has a record in stark contrast to Burr, recovering money from Wall Street, protecting seniors from scam artists, and fighting for women. She is well prepared to launch an effective general election campaign. Marshall can win this race and flip this seat for Democrats if she has the resources to be competitive.

Methods: Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey, which was conducted by phone using professional interviewers. The survey was conducted among 600 registered voters in North Carolina with past participation in similar elections and who say they are likely to vote this November. The survey was conducted July 15-19, 2010. The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 4 percentage points.

Full disclosure: Lake Research conducted this poll for the campaign.

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