Thursday, October 21, 2010

Carolina fans firmly behind Butch Davis, survey shows

NEWS RELEASE - A new poll of North Carolina voters describing themselves as UNC fans finds that football coach Butch Davis retains strong support from his fan base and that there is little sentiment in favor of replacing him.

Overall 41 percent of UNC fans approve of the job Davis is doing as coach to 20 percent who disapprove. This survey was conducted before the team won in Charlottesville for the first time in 29 years last weekend. Respondents were asked to describe their fandom of the team as ‘hardcore’ or ‘casual’ and among the most devoted fans Davis’ approval rises to 59 percent with only 21 percent unhappy with his performance.

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about Davis’ future at North Carolina given all of the team’s issues with the NCAA but only 14 percent of the Tar Heel fan base thinks he should be fired to 57 percent who think he should continue on in his position. That sentiment is even stronger among those who identified themselves as ‘hardcore’ fans. Only 9 percent of them supported replacing Davis while 68 percent said he should remain as coach.

“For everything that’s happened in the UNC football program over the last three months Butch Davis remains extremely popular with Tar Heel fans,” said Tom Jensen, Director of Public Policy Polling. “That seems to reflect a sentiment that the team’s off field troubles are not Davis’ fault, as well as appreciation for the strides the team has made on the field since Davis became the coach.”

The poll had another interesting finding. While 46 percent of voters statewide describe themselves as Democrats to 37 percent who are Republicans, those identifying as Carolina fans break down as 53 percent Democrats and 32 percent Republicans. And those describing themselves as ‘hardcore’ UNC fans are 59 percent Democrats and 29 percent Republicans. Those data points indicate the general perceptions about the political disposition of UNC people may be correct.

PPP surveyed 597 likely North Carolina voters from Oct. 15-17 and 159 of those respondents identified themselves as UNC fans. The margin of error on that subgroup is +/-7.8 percent. Other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify.

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