RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- An exit poll of North Carolina voters conducted for ABC News reflects the too-close-to-call race in the Tar Heel State.
The poll asked 4,603 total voters various questions based on the issues surrounding the 2020 election and their opinions on the two candidates in the lead for US president: current President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Because of the unprecedented early voting turnout nationwide, the exit poll took answers from voters on Election Day, at early polling sites and over the phone to get an accurate picture of voter sentiment.
In North Carolina, more women voted than men. While 53% of men supported Trump and 44% supported Biden, 53% of women said they supported Biden and 45% said they supported Trump. However, Trump did much better among white women, while 92% of Black women said they voted for Biden.
Young voters showed up in high percentages--16% of voters polled were under 30 years old. Biden was 20 points more popular with young voters than Trump, however, Trump was more popular with older voters, who made up a larger proportion of the turnout.
In an election where campaigns focused efforts on non-white voters, 36% of those polled identified as non-white, and 79% of non-white voters favored Biden. Conversely, 66% of white voters favored Trump. Though national polls recorded a similar percentage of non-white turnout, the country at large shows much smaller margins between non-white and white voters. Nationally, 72% of non-white voters favored Biden and 57% of white voters favored Trump.
Of five choices, North Carolina voters said the economy was the issue that mattered most to them (36%), followed by racial inequity (21%), the coronavirus pandemic (14%), health care policy (12%) and crime and safety (11%). Those that said the economy and crime and safety mattered to them tended to lean towards President Trump; those that found the other issues more important pitched their support for Vice President Biden.
Drilling down further on the issues, while close, more North Carolina voters said they believed Donald Trump would better handle the economy (50% versus 47% for Biden). Still, 50% of voters concede that the economy is currently "not so good or poor," compared to 49% of voters that said the economy is currently "good or excellent." Biden has 81% of the vote among those who think the economy is currently bad, and Trump has 81% of the vote among those who think the economy is currently good.
On the coronavirus pandemic, 51% of voters said they believed Joe Biden would better handle the pandemic, a six-point lead over Trump. Similarly, 51% of voters said they felt containing the pandemic now was more important that rebuilding the economy, compared to 44% of voters that said reopening the economy was more important than containing the pandemic. However, 52% of North Carolina voters said they believed the US efforts to slow the virus are going well or very well, compared to 46% of voters who said efforts are going badly or very badly--essentially a reversal of national exit polls in which 50% of voters said the response is going badly and 48% said it is going well.
While voters were close in their opinions on the economy and the pandemic, 78% of North Carolina voters agreed that racism is one of the most important problems in the United States, if not the most important problem. Among those voters, Joe Biden leads by 20 points. But of the 20% of voters that said racism is a minor problem or not a problem at all, 87% voted for Trump.
On the candidates themselves, those who said they preferred "a strong leader" favored Trump 81% to 16%, while Biden led among voters that prioritized a leader who "can unite the country", "cares about people like me", and "has good judgement".
Overall, 50% of North Carolinians said they approve of Trump's performance as president, compared to 48% who said they disapprove. However, 49% of North Carolina voters said they have a favorable opinion of Biden compared to a 46% favorable opinion of Trump. Additionally, more voters said they felt Biden had the temperament to be president than Trump.
However, of the 74% of North Carolina voters that said they cast a vote because they liked their candidate, Trump commanded a 13 point lead with 56%. Of the 21% of voters who said they cast a vote against their candidate's opponent, 75% said they voted for Biden.
While voters seemed to have strong opinions on the presidential election, they were evenly split on the Senate race. Each candidate for US Senate--Thom Tillis and Cal Cunningham--both received 49% of voter support.
In total, voters seemed pleased with the election process--87% of voters said they were somewhat or very confident that votes would be counted fairly in North Carolina.