Friday, July 17, 2009

Looking back on North Carolina's Senators

Continuing our series of polls looking at who North Carolinians view most and least fondly of recent elected officials, we find that Jesse Helms is the most popular of the state's last seven Senators with John Edwards taking the dubious least popular honors.

Helms, the only North Carolina Senator to be reelected in more than 40 years, was picked as most popular by 35% of respondents. Edwards finished second with 19%, and Terry Sanford finished third with 16%.

Helms finished first among Republicans with 59% picking him and also among independents with 32% picking him. Elizabeth Dole was the only other person to receive double digits among GOP voters. With Democrats Edwards finished first with 31%, followed by Sanford at 25%, and Helms at 20%.

It may seem curious that so many people picked Edwards given his overall unpopularity but that's probably owing to there only having been three Democratic Senators during this period, with Sanford having left office 17 years ago and Kay Hagan still relatively unknown to most voters.

Helms, perhaps surprisingly, was the top choice of moderates. He also won in every region of the state. The older a respondent was the more likely they were to say Helms was their favorite, an indication that he more represents where North Carolina has been than where North Carolina is headed.

Edwards and Helms finish in the top spots for the least popular category as well. Edwards gets 41% on that measure with Helms at 29% and Elizabeth Dole in third place at 11%.

Edwards is least popular among Republicans and independents, while Helms is with Democrats.

You could make an argument from the overall numbers that Sanford is actually the most positively remembered of this group. While 16% picked him as their favorite, just 3% said he was their last favorite. That +13 net review tops Helms' +6 for top honors.

Previous polls showed Ronald Reagan and Jim Hunt as most popular among recent Presidents and Governors, while George W. Bush and Mike Easley were the least popular.

Full results here

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