Poll finds abortion key in NC Lt. Governor’s race

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Voters have yet to decide who will be their GOP choice on the fall ballot for North Carolina’s next Lt. Governor. One topic, abortion, could be key come November.

Out of eight candidates, Hal Weatherman and Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neil finished as the top two. Neither of them got the 30% plus 1 vote needed to be declared the winner in the March primary. They’ll face each other May 14 in a second primary.

On the Democratic side, state Senator Rachel Hunt was the decisive primary winner with 70.35% of the vote.

The current Lt. Governor, Mark Robinson, is not running again for that seat. Instead, he is running for governor. He won the GOP primary in that race. He will face current democratic state Attorney General Josh Stein.

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A new Public Policy Polling survey found 29 percent of voters are unsure of who they will vote for as Lt. Governor in November. Weatherman and O’Neill lead Hunt 37% to 34%, which is within the 4.2% margin of error.

But when NC voters factored in abortion, Hunt had a significant advantage. In some cases, voters were not familiar with where any of the candidates stand on the issue of reproductive rights.

Poll participants were told Hunt supports a woman’s right to seek reproductive healthcare, including access to abortion, while Weatherman and O’Neill favor further banning access. Voters then gave Hunt an advantage, leading Weatherman by an 8-point margin (45-37), with 19% undecided and O’Neill by a 6-point margin (43-37), with 20% undecided.

Democratic Lt. Governors Association director Kevin Holst said his organization sees the North Carolina gubernatorial race as the most important in the country.

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“We plan on making a robust $2,000,000 investment to educate voters on the stakes in this election,” said Holst.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Voters oppose North Carolina’s new 12-week abortion ban by a 13-point margin (49-36), a policy vetoed by Governor Cooper and overridden by the General Assembly.

  • A plurality of North Carolina voters (42%) say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the 12-week abortion ban, while only 27% say they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate.

  • Voters familiar with Democratic candidate Rachel Hunt view her favorably by a 7-point margin (21-14), with 65% unsure.

  • Voters are more divided in opinion on each of the Republican candidates set to face off in a runoff election in May. Jim O’Neill is underwater in favorability by a 2-point margin (10-12), with 78% unsure, while voters view Hal Weatherman favorably by just 1 point (16-15), with 69% unsure

“There’s been sustained energy on this since the 2022 election. North Carolina Republicans snuck through a 12-week abortion ban and overrode Governor Cooper’s veto of this ban. Our data shows that they convincingly disapprove of this abortion ban and are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the abortion ban and wants to go farther. It’s not just IVF, it’s a woman’s fundamental right to choose what to do with her body and our data shows that once voters learn about the positions of each candidate on this issue, they convincingly support state Senator Rachel Hunt for Lieutenant governor,” said Holst.

Sister station CBS 17 has reached out to the Republican Lt. Governors Association for comment.

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