WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- With Election Day eight days away, the war of words among candidates continues to heat up, but many people have already made up their minds about who they want to lead southeastern North Carolina and what problems they want solved.
According to a recent poll, if the election were held today, about half of New Hanover County registered voters would choose incumbent Mike McIntyre over challenger Ilario Pantano to represent the 7th district in Congress.
"It's exciting," McIntyre said. "It shows momentum is building. People are interested. People are now starting to stop and compare and realize there is a great contrast between the two candidates."
The poll was conducted by the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership, but not everyone agrees with it.
"We know that that poll is inaccurate," Pantano said.
Still, while 55 percent of New Hanover County registered voters surveyed said they describe themselves as conservative, 49 percent picked McIntyre, a Democrat, to return to Congress compared to just 37 percent for Republican Pantano.
"All registered voters aren't going to vote. There's a lot of people who are sitting on the couch who haven't been involved in the political process," Pantano said. "Of folks that are going to vote, we're absolutely in the lead, and the proof of that is Nancy Pelosi has spent over $200,000 in this district buying commercials on your network and others attacking me. They wouldn't be doing that if Congressman McIntyre was safe. He's not. The voters are tired of it."
People polled say the biggest issue facing the county is jobs. McIntyre says he's got the upper hand on how to get people back to work.
"I grew up here, and I know friends from high school, friends in my church, friends in my neighborhood who lost their jobs because of these trade deals," McIntyre said. "(Pantano) doesn't have an understanding of that."
But Pantano says he has his own plan of attack.
"We want to lower taxes," he said. "We want to reduce spending because the spending has gotten out of control and that will bring back certainty. That certainty will allow the private sector to start hiring."
In the meantime, the battle continues and is likely to flare all the way until November 2.
The poll also shows 39 percent of voters disapprove of the way the New Hanover County Commission is doing its job. That's the worst rating for commissioners in two years.
Voters also picked incumbent Richard Burr over Elaine Marshall for US Senate by 14 percentage points.