We'll have a more exact answer to that question later this week after we do the tracking poll but I am guessing it will be Bill Graham.
At least initially McCrory's support is likely to be regional. He has been extremely focused on Charlotte- in fact he was quoted in the Charlotte Observer this morning as saying his reason for running would be 'the continued lack of respect for Charlotte and other metropolitan areas.' Notice Charlotte first, other metropolitan areas second rather than a 'metropolitan areas such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, etc.' answer. He hasn't done much to build statewide visibility and I'm not aware of him providing much leadership within the Republican party at the state level either.
So his strongest support at the outset of the campaign is likely to be in the 704 area code. Our polls over the last three months have shown that to be Bill Graham's domain by a wide margin. In November he led Fred Smith there 19-12 while trailing 25-17 overall. In October he had 22% there followed by Bob Orr with 6% and Fred Smith with 5%. And in September he had 31%, far out pacing Orr who had 8% and Smith who had just 3%.
It makes sense that the 704 area code has given Graham his strongest regional support since he lives in Salisbury. But my guess is that when we test McCrory, Graham will fall to second in his own region- and that it could have a strong enough impact to ensure that he either stays second behind Smith where he finished in our poll last month or even falls to third behind Smith and McCrory, depending on what the Mayor's level of support is.
We'll find out later this week.