After a year of polling and tweaking and field testing and refining, we’re officially launching Differentiators Data’s polling service. Our polling will include the same thorough, thoughtful, and rigorous approach we bring to our research and analysis work. And we are pleased to announce Amanda Finelli, Ph.D. will lead Differentiators Data. Amanda has extensive experience and expertise in the policy and political arena, most recently serving as political director for the State Employees Association. She earned a Ph.D. focused in political philosophy from the University of Surrey in London.

Amanda Finelli, Ph.D.
Director, Differentiators Data

To celebrate – and try to get a little attention – we completed a Republican Primary survey looking at what might happen in 2024. The results were interesting and the complete survey topline can be found here and all the crosstabs here.

Our quick take:

2024 Presidential Primary

You heard it here first. While his ascendance has permanently changed the Republican Party’s policy priorities and base of support, the Donald’s run is over. Here’s why: Ron DeSantis is better-liked by the Republican Primary electorate, with an 82% favorable to 11% unfavorable image rating. Trump’s image with Republican voters is very good – a 70% favorable rating is nothing to sneeze at – but his 28% unfavorable rating is almost three times higher than DeSantis’ unfavorables. DeSantis leads Trump by 21 points, 56% to 35%, in a head-to-head matchup.  After two years of Joe Biden, Republican Primary voters want a winner: Only 36% of primary voters think Trump is more likely to defeat Biden while 52% think someone else has a better chance. Unsurprisingly, 89% of the voters who think someone else has a better chance are backing DeSantis. There also are signs GOP Primary voters’ willingness to tolerate some of Trump’s fringiest rhetoric is disappearing, with 58% of respondents saying they disagree with Trump’s call to suspend the Constitution and rerun the 2020 Presidential Election. Trump’s only path to the GOP nomination likely involves a bunch of non-DeSantis candidates splitting up the non-Trump vote but DeSantis is so popular it is hard to see where they’d find room to run.

2024 Gubernatorial Primary

Mark Robinson has spent the last two years working GOP Primary Voters in North Carolina and the primary voters have noticed. Robinson holds an impressive 55% favorable to 8% unfavorable image rating. Robinson is throttling all his rumored opponents, leading former Gov. Pat McCrory by nearly 40 points, former Congressman Mark Walker by 50 points, and current State Treasurer Dale Folwell by 54 points.  Robinson leads all comers in every media market and in rural areas, exurban areas and urban areas of the state. He leads among men and women and among registered Unaffiliated and Republican voters. He leads among people with a favorable image of Trump and DeSantis. He even leads among people who have a favorable image of his prospective opponents, McCrory, Walker and Folwell. Here’s the bottom line: Mark Robinson spent the last two years winning the 2024 Republican Primary for Governor and anybody who challenges him at this point is going to be a bump on his road to the nomination. The bigger question is whether Robinson and his team can pivot from running that very successful primary campaign and start running a general election campaign against presumptive Democratic nominee Josh Stein. 

Just for Fun: AG Primary

For fun, we tested a hypothetical 2024 AG primary matchup between Forsyth County DA Jim O’Neill, who’s fresh off a re-election victory, and Congressman Dan Bishop, who was first elected in the 2019 NC-9 special election. Two bids for AG don’t appear to have built much name ID for O’Neill, who trailed Bishop outside the margin of error:

Images of Other Notable Republicans

We tested the images of several Republicans in the survey and divided them in to 4 main categories:

Well known and well liked: 

  • Ron DeSantis: 82% Favorable / 11% Unfavorable
  • Donald Trump: 70% Favorable / 28% Unfavorable
  • Mark Robinson: 55% Favorable / 8% Unfavorable

Well known and divided opinion: 

  • Thom Tillis: 40% Favorable / 46% Unfavorable
  • Pat McCrory: 46% Favorable / 34% Unfavorable

Regionally known and well liked: 

  • Dan Bishop: 22% Favorable / 8% Unfavorable
  • Tim Moore: 17% Favorable / 7% Unfavorable
  • Bo Hines: 20% Favorable / 11% Unfavorable

Not well known: 

  • Dale Folwell: 12% Favorable / 5% Unfavorable
  • Jim O’Neill: 13% Favorable / 5% Unfavorable