I met up with Bob Orr for coffee this morning. He wanted to chat because he thinks I've been underestimating his chances at getting elected Governor.
He pointed out to me that he has a history of winning races no one thought he had a chance in. When he was elected to the Court of Appeals in 1988, he was the first Republican to win a statewide judicial race in North Carolina during the 20th century.
He also said he thinks our polls aren't telling the whole story because he believes that he will get a significant number of votes from folks who aren't necessarily regular primary voters. Since we survey people who voted in either the 2004 or 2006 primary, folks who don't fit that category aren't getting called.
He thinks that at this point there is a solid 10% of the GOP primary electorate solidly committed to him and that the other candidates have 8-10% as well. He believes that Fred Smith and Bill Graham are probably polling higher based on name recognition drawn from their respective BBQ tour and paid media campaign, but that a lot of that is weak support that won't necessarily be there come election day.
He grants he won't have as much money as the other candidates. But he also thinks that the folks who bother to vote in a primary will really take the time to figure out who the candidates are and make an informed vote rather than a random choice based on a tv ad they saw or a piece of mail they received. And that when they really give it some thought, he'll be in good shape.
I don't think there's much doubt Orr is the most substantive candidate on the Republican side. Whether substance wins out in statewide elections is a much more iffy question. It'll be interesting to see.