Carolina Journal has obtained new polling results of likely voters for the 2022 Republican primary that shows former Gov. Pat McCrory in a strong position over former Congressman Mark Walker and current 13th District Congressman Ted Budd, who just announced his candidacy for the Republican primary April 28.

The North Carolina U.S. Senate Republican Primary & Issue Survey was conducted by Spry Strategies using a hybrid method survey design of landline and mobile phone voters April 21-April 24, 2021. For details on the poll, click here for the crosstabs and click here for the top lines.

2022 GOP Senate Primary Head-to-Head

The results of the poll reveal McCrory leading in the potential three-way race for the 2022 GOP primary for U.S. Senate:

McCrory leads the field with 40% of the vote.

Walker is second at 10.5%.

Budd has 4.8%.

Forty-four percent of respondents said they are undecided.

McCrory ended his time as a popular Charlotte area radio host and officially entered the U.S. Senate race to replace retiring Republican Richard Burr on April 14.

In December, Walker was the first major GOP candidate to announce for the U.S. Senate. Budd just declared his candidacy for the GOP primary on April 28.

The survey research indicates McCrory’s support is split evenly between women and men. Budd and  Walker poll slightly stronger with men than women. Walker performs best with voters who self-identify as the most conservative. McCrory dominates support in the Charlotte media market.

 McCrory’s time as the governor gets overall approval

When asked to reflect on McCrory’s term as governor (2013-2017), 41.4 % strongly approve of his four-year term and 33.5%  somewhat approve, for a total approval of McCrory’s term at 75%.

Only 16.5 % strongly disapprove or disapprove of his term as governor.

Candidate Favorability vs Favorability

McCrory’s favorable/unfavorable rating sits at roughly 72.4% favorable to 16% unfavorable, with 7.2% holding neither a favorable or unfavorable opinion. Key for McCrory, only 3.5% of potential Republican primary voters have never heard of the former governor.

Budd is viewed very favorably by 12.5% and somewhat favorable by 17.6 %, for a total favorable of 30% and a total unfavorable of 9%. However, 47.5% of voters have never heard of Budd.

Walker is viewed as very favorable by 18.8 % and somewhat favorable by 19.2%. Nearly 30% of those polled never heard of Walker.

“We wanted to get a feel for where things stand on key issues and candidates as Republicans begin an important primary season,” said Ryan Burrell, founder of Spry Strategies. “Former Governor McCrory begins in a strong position not only because he has excellent statewide name ID from his tenure as Charlotte Mayor, governor, and a voice for conservatism on radio, TV, and print for various organizations over the years.”

Burrell continued:

“McCrory has low unfavorable marks at only 16% for a guy in the political spotlight for the last 20 years. Pat is strongly liked by GOP primary voters who view McCrory’s cumulative time as governor favorably. Not surprisingly, McCrory dominates the Charlotte market, which will be key in the GOP Senate primary. Former Congressman Mark Walker has improved his statewide name recognition and he and Congressman Budd are close in support in the Greensboro market, where they both have served. Congressman Budd will have a little catching up to do. Mr. Walker who has had a four-month head start in the race for U.S. Senate.”

The majority of respondents seek an “America First” candidate

In Budd’s April 28 video announcement, he pushed an “America First” approach, criticizing what he called the “radical left.” The approach could be successful for Budd, given the results of the poll.

When asked, “When it comes to the Republican primary, how similar or how different would you like the Republican nominee to be to former President Donald Trump?”

Fifty-four percent say they prefer a candidate that is “very similar in tone, style, and on the issues.”

Conversely, 24.5% prefer a candidate that is “different in tone and style but similar on the issues.”

In total, 80% prefer a candidate that holds similar policy positions to Trump.

“Clearly, the America First agenda of being tough on China, trade, and the borders while supporting tax cuts and economic expansion through free-market capitalism still carries the day with Republican voters,” said Burrell. “Trump’s hard-charging style will never be replicated, and I think voters can do without some of the divisiveness in President Trump’s personality. The America First agenda, however, defines the issues for this U.S. Senate race, and the Republican Party has smartly adopted the agenda as the party’s official platform.”

The survey’s sample included 33,600 registered voters who voted in at least two of the past four Republican primary elections in 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, and 3,200 newly registered Republican voters from April 1, 2018 to April 1, 2021. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points and is not connected to any political campaign.