Several North Carolina media folks commented this weekend that Pat McCrory could be hurt by the Democratic primary for President mattering in the state. The theory is that more unaffiliated voters who might be inclined toward the moderate McCrory will vote insead in the Democratic primary.
Our numbers back that up to some extent. When we did the February Republican tracking poll before it looked like the Democratic contest might come to the state 15% of respondents said they were unaffiliated. In the March poll, after a month of speculation and attention brought to the fact that our primary could count, the percentage of folks identifying themselves as unaffiliated in the GOP poll went down to 12%.
It is also true that McCrory does better among unaffiliated voters than he does with registered Republicans. In our March poll he led Fred Smith 27-24 with Republicans but had a lead twice as large, 23-17, with unaffiliateds.
Our February poll showed an even bigger difference. McCrory led by just two points, 24-22, among voters who identified themselves as Republicans. But his 27-12 advantage with unaffiliated voters doubled his overall lead in the poll to four points.
McCrory is still consistently leading Smith, Bill Graham, and Bob Orr with Republicans- but those unaffiliated voters give him a little extra cushion.