When Public Policy Polling releases results of a poll, invariably a question aimed at the Duke-North Carolina basketball rivalry is sprinkled in among those that measure political preferences in the Tar Heel state.
In Wednesday’s release, Public Policy Polling (PPP) came up with another one that charts the UNC-Duke rivalry. Tom Jensen of PPP said there has been a lot of interest in the Duke-UNC rivalry any time PPP has conducted a poll in the last decade. Duke holds a 14-8 advantage on the court during the last 10 seasons, including a pair of head-to-head wins in the ACC Tournament. The teams meet for the first time this season on Feb. 8 in Chapel Hill.
In Question 9 of the the latest 23-question survey, PPP asked “When Duke and UNC play in basketball next month, will you root for Duke or UNC?”
Respondents gave UNC a 10-point edge over the Blue Devils. UNC was favored by 41 percent of the respondents, while Duke garnered 31 percent. Those who weren’t sure whom to pull for polled at 28 percent. They must have been N.C. State fans who don’t have much use for either team.
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“A lot has changed in North Carolina over the last decade that we’ve been regularly polling the state but there’s one constant: when UNC and Duke play each other in basketball in a couple weeks, 41 percent of voters will be pulling for the Tar Heels to 31 percent for the Blue Devils,” Jensen said. “We’ve never found anything else.”
PPP was able to dig down a little deeper in their UNC-Duke numbers to get the political leanings within the rivalry by comparing respondents who said they voted for Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. PPP found Clinton voters preferred UNC 47/25, while Trump voters prefer Duke 38/35.
In previous polls measuring the rivalry, PPP found there is a mutual respect on both sides for the other team.
“The numbers haven’t changed much over the 10 years we’ve been doing the polls,” Jensen said. “One thing we’ve learned is that UNC fans have respect for the Duke team and Coach Mike Krzyzewski just like the Duke fans have a respect for UNC and Coach Roy Williams. It’s an affectionate hate the fans share.”
PPP surveyed 839 registered voters from January 19-21. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.4 percent. Almost half of the respondents came from the area codes encompassing the Triangle and Charlotte. PPP got 22 percent of its respondents from the 919 area code and 20 percent from the 704 area code that covers Charlotte. The Triad, which is in the 336 area code had 19 percent of the responses.