In the year of the outsider in presidential politics, as Donald Trump and Ben Carson lead the polls for the Republican nomination and Carly Fiorina has seen time among the top tier GOP candidates, 57 percent of North Carolina voters consider a business background to be important for a candidate seeking elected office, according to the most recent survey by the Meredith College Poll.
While it is a noteworthy aspect, only 19 percent consider business background to be the deciding factor when voting for a particular candidate, while traditional factors like party affiliation and policy positions are more important.
“Given the importance of economic issues in national and state elections, it is not surprising that voters thought that a business background was effective for political candidates,” said David McLennan, visiting professor of political science and one of the directors of the Meredith College Poll.
There are stark differences in perception of a candidate’s business background based on party and gender lines. For men, 68 percent consider a business background to be effective compared to only 49 percent of women. Likewise, 74 percent of Republicans put more stock in business background than Democrats, at 41 percent.
Another interesting outlier is difference in perception based on voters’ level of education. Republican respondents with less than a college degree were significantly more likely to find business background effective (82 percent for Trump and 72 percent for Fiorina) compared to those with a college degree or higher (54 percent for both candidates).
“This divide within Republican voters for how qualified Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina are, based on their business experiences, point to potential weaknesses for both candidates in getting the party’s nomination,” McLennan added. “Since both have never held elective office and are basing their candidacies on their business success, it suggests that neither may be able to capture enough delegates to win the party’s nomination and Republicans may, despite all the suggestions that this is the ‘year of the outsider,’ turn to an experienced politician as their party’s nominee.”
About The Meredith Poll
The Meredith Poll survey was conducted using a live-caller, dual frame (landline and cell phone) survey of 528 registered voters of North Carolina between October 11-15, 2015. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.25 percentage points for registered voters. Meredith College students administer the survey as part of the College’s commitment to civic engagement.
Contact David McLennan
Visiting Professor of Political Science
Fax: (919) 760-8330