Former congressman Bob Etheridge leads a field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates in a survey released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling.
The poll finds that of the three contenders who have officially announced their candidacy, Etheridge is favored by 30 percent of Democratic-leaning voters, followed by Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton at 34 percent. State Rep. Bill Faison of Orange County comes in last at 6 percent.
When factoring in potential candidates who are mulling over possible runs, Etheridge still leads the pack at 24 percent, with state Sen. Dan Blue second at 13 percent. Dalton drops to third at 10 percent. Congressman Brad Miller, former state treasurer Richard Moore, Congressman Mike McIntyre and Rep. Faison all follow in the single digits.
Etheridge, who was the state superintendent of public instruction before serving seven terms in Congress, leads the field in name recognition at 50 percent, followed by Miller and Dalton at 41 percent.
While Etheridge tops the Democratic field for governor, roughly 40 percent of voters are undecided, essentially leaving the nomination fight wide open with just 13 weeks to go before the state’s May 8 primary.
“Etheridge is the early favorite to the extent there is one, but a lot can change in the next three months,” said pollster Tom Jensen.