A former Navy pilot and computer services businessman leads a crowded field in the race to win the March 5 Republican primary to represent North Carolina’s newly configured NC-13 district, according to a Kaplan Strategies poll conducted Jan. 28 through Jan. 30 with 398 registered Republican primary voters.
Fred Von Canon leads 11 other candidates with 21 percent of support from respondents, followed by Kelly Daughtry, 17 percent; Brad Knott, 9 percent; DeVan Barbour, 9 percent; and Eric Stevenson, 6 percent.
The other seven candidates garnered 3 percent or less. The poll carries a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. The polling sample was weighted to match a proprietary turnout model.
House races are closely linked to presidents and presidential candidates, and this district is solidly for former President Donald Trump, which by extension makes it a solid pick up for the GOP in 2024, said Doug Kaplan, who runs Kaplan Strategies.
In the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, 78 percent of NC-13 Republicans support Trump, 16 percent support former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, and 5 percent are undecided.
Only 21 percent of respondents support continued financial support of Ukraine, and 63 percent are opposed.
Interestingly, 42 percent want to eliminate the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, with no substitution. Thirty-seven percent support a repeal and replace of Obamacare. Fourteen percent support keeping Obamacare with amendments, and 8 percent of the district’s Republicans want no chances.
No one has the nomination locked up, Kaplan said.
“The margin suggests that both Von Canon and Daughtry have resonated with the electorate, but neither has secured a decisive advantage,” he said.
“With a substantial portion of the electorate, 31 percent, still undecided, candidates need to engage voters,” he said.
“Candidates should focus on immigration, crime, and economic issues with clear, concise proposals that resonate with voters’ concerns,” he said.
Seventy-nine percent of Republican voters in the poll said there needs to be a significant increase in sentences for violent crimes.
Seventy-seven percent strongly support the death penalty for heinous crimes, such as murder and terrorism.
Ninety percent said they wanted to significantly increase immigration enforcement, 76 percent support deportation of all illegal immigrants, and 62 percent support ending so-called birthright citizenship, which grants citizenship to everyone born in the United States, regardless of legal status.
The Democratic incumbent, Rep. Wiley Nickel, beat MAGA favorite Bo Hines in 2022 but opted to run for the Senate in 2026 after Republicans, who dominate the state legislature, effectively redrew him into private life.
Nickel said he could not see a path to victory in the new NC-13, but he had a fair shot in the upper chamber. “You can’t gerrymander a statewide election.”
Kaplan said all the candidates suffer from low name recognition except for Knott, who has recognition of more than 50 percent.
“This presents an opportunity in the remainder of the campaign to define a particular candidate with positive messaging while negatively defining competitors,” he said.
The one-time federal prosecutor also benefitted from television advertising funded by the American Foundations Committee, a political action committee formed with local community leaders, including attorney Boyd Sturges, who prosecuted the Duke lacrosse team rape case.