Donald Trump holds a slim lead over Ben Carson for North Carolina’s Republican presidential preference, but Carson and Jeb Bush would fare better against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Elon University Poll’s latest report.

In an election matchup of Trump versus Clinton, 47 percent of respondents said they would vote for Clinton, while 40 percent said they would vote for Trump. Carson and Bush led by 11 and three points in their respective match-ups against Clinton.

“The GOP needs North Carolina if they want to win the White House,” said Jason Husser, assistant director of the Elon Poll, in a statement. “This survey suggests Trump would likely lose to Clinton in the Old North State. However, other Republican candidates have grounds for success.”

Among the 1,258 North Carolina residents surveyed Sept. 17-21, Carson received more support from women and Independent voters than Clinton did in their hypothetical matchup. He also garnered double the support among African-American voters compared to Trump and Bush.

But Trump held 22 percent of Republican support compared to Carson’s 21 percent. Carly Fiorina placed third with 10 percent, while Marco Rubio and Bush each received 7 percent.

On the Democratic side, Clinton received 53 percent of support, with Bernie Sanders a distant second at 23 percent.

When polled on social issues, 46 percent of voters opposed same-sex marriage compared to the 42 percent who supported it, and more registered voters said access to abortion should be made more difficult than those who said it should be easier.

“For the past two years, the Elon Poll has observed a trend of increased public support for making access to an abortion easier,” said Kenneth Fernandez, director of the Elon University Poll, in a statement. “However, public sentiment appears to have changed recently in North Carolina. This new survey shows more voters prefer increasing restrictions on access to an abortion. This may be a response to the increased negative media attention Planned Parenthood has received in recent months.”

The political affiliations of the respondents were split evenly between those who identified as Republicans (31 percent) and those who identified as Democrats (33 percent).

In other polling areas, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory holds a one-point lead over Democrat Roy Cooper for next year’s vote for North Carolina governor. The economy was seen as the United States’ most important issue at 23 percent, with international affairs at 13 percent. President Barack Obama’s approval rating was at 41.6 percent, a slight decrease from April’s poll, which found his approval rating to be 42.9 percent.

The Elon Poll’s report and full methodology can be found here.


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