The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday October 20th

Pundits: Edwards' Drop In N.C. Poll Insignificant

In the poll -- conducted at Elon University -- Edwards received a 43 percent approval rating in April, while in February he received a 53 percent approval. In October, the figure was 57 percent.

The Elon Institute of Politics and Public Affairs administered a poll surveying a pool of N.C. voters from April 15 to April 18.

Edwards is a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004, but only 41 percent of those surveyed said they would support Edwards in a bid for the presidency.

Sharon Spray, a political science professor at Elon University, said that although the ratings do not reflect well upon Edwards, they will not affect his potential presidential bid.

"(The ratings) won't affect it at all," Spray said. "Polls are not good predictors of how people feel in a year. Don't place too much emphasis on the ratings. It is only a snapshot of how people feel right now."

Spray added that the ratings might reflect unbalanced media.

"He is not getting enough credit in the papers," she said. "He is getting more publicity for time out of Washington. He hasn't had enough high-profile policies."

Spray said she thinks Edwards' recent emphasis on reviving the textile industry in North Carolina will bring more attention to his efforts to serve the state.

"I don't think (his attempts in textile) will play a big part in the presidential bid," Spray said. "It will help him get recognition in North Carolina. I think it is a good move."

But Spray said she does not think his interest in textiles is a political move.

"I think he is doing it because that is his job -- to serve the citizens of North Carolina," she said. "I think it was motivated by the number of people who lost jobs in textile."

Mike Briggs, Edwards' press secretary, also said Edward's interest in textile is not motivated by ratings.

"For him it is personal," he said. "His father worked in the mills. He knows the people."

Briggs said the poll is not troubling because it is only one form of feedback.

"The ratings are according to one poll," Briggs said. "He remains strong and popular throughout North Carolina."

Briggs added that Edwards has not yet decided if he will seek the presidential nomination.

"(Edwards) hasn't made his mind up yet," Briggs said. "He hears from people who think it would be a good idea, but he also hears from people in North Carolina who think he is doing a good job in the Senate and want him to stay there."

Briggs said Edwards has spent a significant amount of time in North Carolina, visiting Raleigh and Jamestown recently to discuss economic development and community service proposals.

Ferrel Guillory, director of UNC's Program on Southern Politics, Media and Public Life, also said the poll should be interpreted cautiously.

"If he shows detachment from North Carolina, then (the poll) might be more meaningful," Guillory said. "But I don't see him doing that.

"He's done a balancing act. He was in Florida one day and Raleigh the next.

"It's a lot of work, but he is doing it."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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