Early poll shows Clinton will have to fight for North Carolina

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Here in North Carolina, Hillary Clinton will try to build momentum with the block of Democratic voters who helped President Barack Obama win the state in 2008.

At least one local poll conducted in February, already anticipating Clinton's run for the White House, shows she may have her work cut out for her.

"If we compare Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama when he won in 2008 and almost won in 2012, Clinton doesn't run as strong with the groups that supported Obama," said David McLennan, a Political Science professor at Meredith College in Raleigh. "African-Americans, even women in urban areas, aren't as supportive of Hillary Clinton as they were of Barack Obama, so I think she's got some ground to make up."

Given that North Carolina will continue to be a key state in presidential elections, the Meredith College Poll shows she will have to hit the ground running.

Of all voters surveyed, more than half at 51 percent said they were either "somewhat unlikely" or "very unlikely" to vote for Clinton. Democrats had the greatest support for Clinton with 78 percent saying they were "somewhat likely" or "very likely" to vote for her, compared to the 10 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of those unaffiliated.

Click here to examine the full report from Meredith College

Even those who say they are happy Clinton finally made her second bid for president official, they're anticipating Clinton may have a tougher time in North Carolina.

"Politics have changed here in North Carolina since we arrived 10 years ago, we'd love to see it change back," said Wake County resident, Mary Jo Gellenbeck. "It's hard to say how a Democrat will do in North Carolina, but Wake County is strong in that environment, Charlotte is too, so I'm optimistic, and if they have their cards right they'll play the rural area and really express to them what the long term goal is."

While residents and political analysts wait and see how Clinton will do, North Carolina's Republican Party Chairman, Claude Pope, is not wasting any time in the political fight.

He released the following statement in response to Hillary Clinton's announcement:

Hillary Clinton has been running for President for the last decade, and today she finally made it official. But over the past few months, voters have been reminded that the word 'scandal' is synonymous with 'Clinton'. It is clear that Clinton will have to answer for her countless ethical issues, conflict-of-interest allegations, and hypocrisies.

ABC11 asked Professor McLennan his thoughts on how Clinton's past could affect her campaign. He said, "Hillary is so well-known and that's a positive in many ways because she's been around over 20 years, but I think a lot of her problems are already out there. The email scandal, I don't think in and of itself, is going to make a huge issue. For people who didn't like Hillary Clinton this was just another piece of evidence for people who didn't already like her, for people who like Hillary already it wasn't a big deal, they see other politicians have done that."

He went on to say, "What I'd watch for is how quickly the campaign gets off ground, how quickly she can get on message and stay on message and not be distracted by email or some other issue that may come up and that's what she needs to do in North Carolina to get those groups behind her that she needs to win the state."

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