A new study has found that Wilmington ranks as the most favorable city in North Carolina for the nearly 1,000 participants polled.
WILMINGTON -- Coming off an election that left deep divisions among North Carolinians, one debate managed to cross party lines: the state loves Wilmington.
In a new study released Tuesday, the Port City ranked first among favorability ranking for state cities according to 953 North Carolinians. Public Policy Polling, a national polling company based in Raleigh, conducted the study from Jan. 13-16 to gauge a statewide preference for topics ranging from doughnuts to barbecue to college basketball to the state song.
Wilmington held a clear lead among the North Carolina cities tested with voters, claiming a 69 percent favorability rating. The study is an update of one conducted five years ago, when Wilmington and Raleigh tied for the top spot with 67 percent favorability. Raleigh dropped to 62 percent favorability in the 2017 study, but still managed to hold onto the No. 2 spot.
Southport resident Linsey Abernathey, out for a stroll in downtown Wilmington Wednesday afternoon with her husband Quentin and young son, said the Port City is attractive to so many because it caters to all. "There is something for literally everyone to do," she said, standing near the Riverwalk. "Anything from having a little kid to when we bring my grandmother, there is always something going on with the different festivals and activities we have."
Falling in behind Wilmington and Raleigh were Asheville (61 percent), Winston-Salem (56), Greensboro (56), Chapel Hill (56), Charlotte (55), Cary (43), Greenville (39), Durham (38), Fayetteville (34) and Carrboro (28).
The biggest declines were Raleigh and Charlotte, the latter of which fell to a 55 percent favorability rating and saw its unfavourability rating spike eight points to 26 percent -- a change polling analyst Jim Williams attributed specifically to politics.
"I think that's because Charlotte has become a flashpoint nationally because of the HB2 issue, as has Raleigh," he said. "People just have a lesser opinion of those cities."
Local resident May Lawley was also downtown Wednesday with her father, Dave, who was visiting from Charlotte. She said the small-town feel with big-city amenities like a downtown area and shopping centers likely contributes to Wilmington's statewide appeal. But for Dave, it's a bit more deeply rooted.
Credit: Hunter Ingram, StarNews Staff