Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning private firm in Raleigh, released a presidential poll Wednesday showing Trump as the preferred Republican candidate in the state, with 24 percent of people who responded supporting him. Ben Carson and Jeb Bush followed with 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
In addition to the 8 percentage-point increase that Trump picked up since the last PPP poll one month ago, an independent candidate called Deez Nuts has attracted statewide attention with 9 percent of voters supporting him.
Deez Nuts is 15-year-old Brady Olson from Iowa who filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission for his campaign “Deez Nuts for President 2016.”
Frank Pray, chairman of UNC College Republicans, said voters are showing an interest in Trump because the political class has failed in addressing the same issues every election. He said Trump has successfully marketed his position as a political outsider.
“I think that Donald Trump, while many of his positions are certainly outrageous, does really hit a nerve among the American people,” Pray said.
But Daniel Kreiss, a professor at the School of Media and Journalism who studies political campaigns, said early polls early don’t tell too much about the actual race.
“What happens is that there tends to be, over time, more and more scrutiny of that candidate,” Kreiss said. “So we would also expect that, perhaps, Trump’s poll numbers would not necessarily remain as stable over time if he comes under increasing scrutiny from the political, and other, establishments.”
Kreiss said Trump’s popularity is most likely due to his positions on policy issues that appeal to Republican voters.
“There are some people who like that style, that he’s not a politician, a blunt talker. And that must appeal to some people, although it’s kind of hard to put a number on that or how that actually works,” he said.
Joke candidates like Deez Nuts are likely to get more attention at this point in the race since few people are actively interested in the race, Kreiss said.
“What that generally means is that people, other than if you are a real politico, you’re just not going to put a lot of information or energy into answering polling questions,” he said.
Pray also said that people are just having some fun since the primary is still far away.
“There’s a lot of time between now and (the primary), and when people do polls like that, they see something that they think is funny, and they’re very likely to get a good laugh out of it by putting that one down.”