Dalton tops poll

Published 9:23 am Tuesday, May 1, 2012

RALEIGH – He may be North Carolina’s newest comeback kid.

Lt. Governor Walter Dalton now leads the race for the Democratic nomination for North Carolina Governor, according to the latest results released by Public Policy Polling.

PPP released the data Monday after surveying 500 likely Democratic voters April 27-29. The poll, which was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization, shows Dalton pulling into a double-digit lead in the race.

Dalton now has 36 percent of the likely voters compared to just 26 percent for former Congressman Bob Etheridge. The  Lt. Governor’s polling numbers have risen steadily since he announced for the office. He debuted at 15 percent, trailing Etheridge.

Earlier this month, the race was a dead heat with both polling at 26 percent. Now Dalton is pulling away from Etheridge as well as the other candidates in the races. Representative Bill Faison is polling only at five percent while Gardenia Henley and Bruce Blackman are each at three percent. Gary Dunn has just two percent of the polling votes.

“Walter Dalton gained 21 points in a month while all the other candidates have remained in place,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “Something major would have to happen in the next week for him to not take the nomination.”

The polling shows both Dalton and Etheridge with a 40 percent approval rating. Dalton’s unfavorable rating is just 17 percent compared to 22 percent for Etheridge.

Faison holds a higher unfavorable rating (24 percent) than favorable (18 percent).

Dalton also leads in the polling in the 252 area code, though not with as big of a majority. Dalton has a 27 percent backing compared to 25 percent for Etheridge and Faison has nine percent.

While Dalton has come from behind to lead in the race for governor on the Democratic ticket, Linda Coleman is continuing to pull away from Eric Mansfield in the race for Lt. Governor.

Coleman, the state’s personnel director, now holds a 39-18 percent lead over State Senator Eric Mansfield in the race for the state’s second in command

Coleman has a commanding lead in the 252 area code with a 57 percent polling mark compared to just 14 percent for Mansfield.

PPP’s polling for the Democratic candidates for Agriculture Commissioner show the race in almost a dead heat. Scott Bryant leads Walter Smith 20-17 percent in a poll that has a plus or minus 4.4 percent margin of error.

State Treasurer Janet Cowell holds a commanding lead (50-11 percent) over Ron Elmer in the Democratic race for that spot.  Cowell polls at 58 percent in the 252 area code.

The other race on the ballot shows Ty Richardson leading the race for the Democratic nomination for Labor Commissioner.

“The Democrats are headed for a potential embarrassing outcome in the Labor Commissioner primary where Ty Richarson, who’s drawn attention mostly for his DUIs, leads with 26 percent to 20 percent for John Brooks and 12 percent for Marlowe Foster,” PPP said.

Brooks actually leads the way in the 252 area code with 31 percent of the polling compared to just 24 percent for Richardson. About 35 percent remain undecided in the race.

The May primary is next week (Tuesday, May 8).