In what is certainly not a scientific poll, state senator Fred Smith led the way with 63% of the 203 votes cast in a straw poll for the Republican gubernatorial primary held at the North Carolina Republican Party's GOP Hall of Fame dinner over the weekend. Bob Orr had 22% of the vote and Bill Graham finished last with 15%.
The huge disparity between Smith and Graham speaks to the differences in their styles and the way they're running their campaigns. Smith is running an old style North Carolina campaign, going to barbecues and meeting with party activists in as many different counties as he can. Those are the kinds of people who will go to a GOP Hall of Fame dinner, and that retail politicking is earning their support.
Graham on the other hand has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money into extensive media campaigns on the gas tax and immigration to build his visibility. He will likely run a campaign in which he largely skips over local GOP leaders and uses his funds to take the message straight to the voters.
The results could say something about what the most effective type of campaign to run is in 21st century North Carolina politics.