The horse race

Been immersed in the horse race coverage. As we start early voting in NC and get closer to Election Day, the speculating goes up to 11. The national pundit corps is starting to troll deeper into state media for clues.
So, the venerable Rob Christensen puts up a post on Under the Dome which says the Romney folks are confident about NC and are sending staff from NC to Ohio. And Politico is all “Boom! NC is over says the N&O.” Of course, their headline, Is NC Cooked?, include the all-important question mark, but it’s out there.
I’m not going to blame Rob, because he’s doing his job, although there is no indication that he knows for an absolute fact that the Romney folks are confident. They might just have decided that they can’t risk losing Ohio and are pouring resources into it, which seems to be the case from everything else I’ve read.
Also, i just the love term “site-leading report.”
The full story, which arrived this am in the N&O is a little more nuanced. The Romney folks are citing a widening lead in the polls. You’d think someone at the N&O would have this page bookmarked. Note that McCain led in the polls all the way up until the votes were counted. Mason-Dixon has McCain up by 3 points going into November.

The NC trend is less Democrats, more reliable Democratic voters

Registration numbers have been a focus of late, especially in the battleground states.
I can’t speak for how the numbers work in other states, but I do know that if you think that lower numbers of Democrats in North Carolina mean less Democratic votes, you’d be wrong.
The quirky trend of the Old North State for the past two decades or so is that the people migrating here tend to be more reliable Democratic voters than the natives. There was a very good Public Policy Polling study of this in 2008 and what they found holds today. It’s also likely accelerating. The most recent PPP look at the presidential race has the president leading his challenger by a huge margin among the people who have been here ten years or less.

From this month’s Exile on Jones Street Column in the Indy, which came out this week:

Following the rout of 2010, GOP strategists maintained that Obama’s win in North Carolina was an anomaly driven by unusually high turnout. They pointed to a drop in Democratic registrations.

But as the PPP study points out, the people moving here, even independents, are proving to be more reliable Democratic voters than the natives. Born and bred Tar Heels came of age in what was historically a one-party state; if you wanted a say in legislative or county commissioner races, you registered as a Democrat so you could vote in the primary.

That same dynamic identified in 2008 is at play this year. The recent PPP poll on the presidential race notes that Obama and Romney are tied 47-47 for the native vote. The president’s lead can be attributed to an edge among non-native voters, including a 66-to-27-percent lead among those who’ve been here less than 10 years.

There’s a lot of things to note in the registration outlook and the demographic changes, but one that gets little mention is that all the recruiting the state is doing and the new jobs coming to the state – our rapid growth over the past 30 years – is starting to have a real impact on out politics.

Obama over Romney by 5 in NC

That’s the headline out of the new PPP poll.

Mitt Romney may have effectively wrapped up the GOP nomination with Rick Santorum’s withdrawal yesterday, but PPP’s newest North Carolina poll really shows how much Romney was hurt by the process with Barack Obama as the ultimate beneficiary.

President Obama now leads Romney by 5 points in North Carolina, 49-44. That’s the largest lead we’ve found for him in monthly polling dating back to November of 2010. Obama has a 51-38 advantage with independents and is particularly strong with women (54-39), African Americans (90-7), voters under 30 (61-33), and folks in the Triangle (60-33).

Elon Poll says NC says ‘Tax Me’ — Really?

I find this poll result strange because that’s not what voters around the state – even liberal Orange County voters – have been saying when asked to approve local option 1/4 cent sales tax hikes. Maybe this is a framing thing. Maybe county leaders should have said not having the hike meant cutting jobs.
The General Assembly won’t have to seek the voters approval if they want to raise the sales tax, but it’s hard to see the smaller government crowd signing on to it.
Here’s the data link (pdf).

From the Elon Poll release:

North Carolina State Budget Situation

When told of the state budget shortfall and asked on how they would address it, only 15 percent of respondents were unwilling to increase existing taxes, but a majority of North Carolinians oppose the idea of creating new taxes where none currently exist.

If faced with a tax increase, half the respondents would prefer to increase the sales tax. Twelve percent would prefer an increase in property tax, while 16 percent would prefer an increase in the income tax.

In a separate question, the poll found 62 percent of citizens would support an increase in the sales tax by one cent on every dollar spent.

“These results indicate that North Carolinians are cognizant of the situation facing the state and, apparently in lieu of making things worse for others, are willing to shoulder their share of the budget burden,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.

Citizens are also opposed (51 percent) to equal cuts across state programs, as well as eliminating current state employee jobs (56 percent).

Say what?

Rassmussen, which always seems to skew a bit GOPish anyway, has Richard Burr with a 56 percent job approval rating. I’m not sure I’ve seen many politicians crack that for reals in NC in quite a while, let alone a one term incumbent Senator.
They’re also calling the Burr-Marshall race at 52-37.
The poll is based on likely voters, which could eliminate the new voters signed up during the presidential race depending on the criteria.
The number I’d really like to see is name recognition.
How many people really know who their Senators are?

Is the party over?

The enthusiasm gap, a key voting indicator, took a big drop recently.

Republican registered voters’ enthusiasm about voting in this year’s midterm elections has declined significantly in recent weeks. As a result, Republicans’ advantage over Democrats on this measure has shrunk from 19 points in early April to 10 points in the latest weekly aggregate.

Meanwhile, in the 2010 Senate race

Cal Cunningham has a golden retriever named Davidson.
That, and other fun facts about the potential Senate candidate at his rather extensive Wikipedia page.
Roll Call says he’s thinking seriously about it.
Politico says Insider Advantage poll “finds Burr with just a 39 percent approval rating, with 31 percent of North Carolina voters disapproving of his performance.”
We’re in an era in which incumbency is no where near the advantage it once was. Looks like a wide open race.

New Elon Poll

Via Elon University this am:

Elon Poll: In North Carolina, GOP holds edge in presidential race
But when asked about the U.S. Senate race, more than half of respondents said it was time for a change from incumbent Elizabeth Dole

More than half of North Carolina residents have a favorable view of Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, whose marks are much higher than those of Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama, according to the latest Elon University Poll.

And more North Carolina residents (41 percent) plan to support the Republican Party in the November presidential election than the Democratic Party (35 percent). Twenty percent of respondents remain undecided.

Two thirds of respondents (67 percent) said vice presidential running mates have at least some influence in their evaluation of the candidates. Favorability ratings in the presidential race:

Sen. John McCain: 54 percent favorable
Gov. Sarah Palin: 49 percent favorable

Sen. Barack Obama: 37 percent favorable
Sen. Joe Biden: 41 percent favorable


Poll respondents indicated a different level of support for the candidates in the state’s U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who is running for a second term, and state Sen. Kay Hagan. Forty-eight percent of respondents indicated dissatisfaction with Dole, a jump of 22 percentage points from the previous Elon Poll in April.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said it is time for a new person to have a chance to represent North Carolina in the Senate. The race for the seat appears to be a dead heat, with each of the parties receiving support from 35 percent of respondents.

The poll, conducted Sept. 15-18, 2008, by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 411 North Carolina residents. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percent. The sample is of the population in general and does not restrict respondents by their voter eligibility or likelihood of voting in an election. The sample was comprised of both landlines and cellular phones.


The gubernatorial contest remains tight, with 37 percent of respondents supporting the Republican Party and 35 percent pledging their votes to the Democratic Party.
Public opinion for gubernatorial candidates Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue, the Democratic nominee, and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, the Republican nominee, was consistent between the opponents. While 34 percent of respondents disapproved of each candidate, each of them also received a 37 percent approval rating.

“At this time, it appears that the three major races in North Carolina are going to come down to the wire,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “While the public has not made a final determination among the candidates, nearly everyone can agree that the economy is the major issue in these upcoming contests.”

Eighty-one percent of respondents believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction. The most cited issues that will affect votes included the following:

Economy: 92 percent
Health care: 86 percent
Iraq war: 84 percent
Taxes: 83 percent

The top issues facing North Carolina were identified to be:

Economy: 47 percent
Energy & Gas Prices: 11 percent
Elementary & Secondary Education: 10 percent