January 17, 2017

Clay Aiken Trails Rep. Renee Ellmers in Poll

aikenU.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers has a lead over challenger Clay Aiken in the race to hold on to her seat in House District2, according to a recent poll.

The flash poll of 400 registered voters conducted by the conservative-leaning Civitas Institute over the weekend shows Ellmers leading with 47 percent to 39 percent, with a five-point margin of error.

“It’s a comfortable lead,” said Patrick Sebastian, a senior adviser with the Ellmers campaign. He said the 54 percent disapproval rating of President Obama bodes well for Ellmers with undecided voters.

“Renee is not taking this race for granted and is working around the clock to earn the chance to represent the 2nd District in Washington,” he said.

Tucker Middleton, communications director for the Aiken campaign, said the poll shows Ellmers is in trouble.

“When a conservative group like Civitas has you up by eight points,” she said, the margin is likely lower.

“She’s under 50 percent, which never bodes well for an incumbent,” Middleton said. “There’s room for it to narrow.”

The poll is a rare public look into voter sentiment regarding the 2nd District race, which encompasses about 480,000 registered voters including many in Cumberland County.

Despite Ellmers’ lead among those surveyed, the poll showed the candidates with the same favorability rating – at 25 percent. But more voters judged them unfavorably, with Ellmers at 28 percent and Aiken at 35 percent.

Jim Tynen, communications director for the Civitas Institute, said the Ellmers-Aiken contest “is the most high-profile congressional race in the state right now” and fits well into a series of legislative flash polls the institute will be releasing this fall.

North Carolina pollsters and political analysts told The Fayetteville Observer last week that many polling organizations have steered clear of polling on the race because they don’t expect it to be terribly close.

These organizations have for the most part devoted resources to the neck-and-neck U.S. Senate race between Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis. Civitas’ flash poll also showed 2nd District voters at a tie in their support of these two candidates, at 44 percent each.

“Every poll is just a snapshot of voter sentiment,” Tynen said.

He noted that sentiment can change and that other polls may show different snapshots.

“We think for practical reasons, this is about the best kind of look you’re going to get right now.”

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