Civitas has released its newest round of numbers this week and the big news is Kay Hagan continuing to move up on Elizabeth Dole. Hagan now just trails by three points, 44-41. This despite Hagan continuing to get less than 70% of the votes of self identified Democrats, a figure which can only improve.
Civitas was in the field from last Thursday to Sunday. We went into the field on Wednesday. The impact on the race's numbers of an extra week of the DSCC ad about Dole's effectiveness as well as Hagan's own ad campaign? We still have more folks to interview but there is a very good chance Hagan will be in the lead based on the first two days of this poll.
They show the race for Governor basically unchanged with Bev Perdue leading Pat McCrory 43-41. In our poll last month we showed most of the Democratic ticket in essentially the same position it had found itself in June, but with Perdue significantly expanding her lead. Usually if one of the candidates makes a leap and none of the rest in their party do it's because something real is happening, like in the Senate race. But it could have just been one of those occasional flukes of polling- we'll see next week.
One thing I found interesting in their poll was this test for the Supreme Court race where they asked the question both identifying and not identifying the candidates' parties. When they gave party labels in July 69% of respondents had a preference, with Democrat Suzanne Reynolds leading 36-33. When they took the party labels off in August just 26% picked one of the candidates with Reynolds still leading 14-12.
Civitas uses this to bolster an argument for partisan judicial elections and I don't necessarily disagree. Sometimes people in power over react to a single bad incident and make decisions without considering the fact that things will turn back around in the future. Case in point the move by legislative Democrats to go to nonpartisan judicial elections after the disastrous result of the 2002 contest.
Yeah that was a bad year for Democrats, but they lost a Court of Appeals seat in 2006 between Linda Stephens and Donna Stroud that they surely would have won if party labels had been on the ballot in that Democratic year. Democrats may sweep the Judicial elections this year anyway, but again, I think it would be a slam dunk with party labels on the ballot.
Changing the rules because of one really bad election year may have been short sighted- and party labels on the ballot does make it much easier for voters.