In 2004 Mike Easley won the vote in the 8th and 10th Congressional Districts, both dominated by the Charlotte media market, by an average of 6%. He did so even as John Kerry lost them by an average of 23 points to George W. Bush. In other words Easley outran Kerry by 29%.
This year it's a completely different story. Barack Obama appears primed to do much better in these two districts than Kerry did. He currently trails in them by an average of 11 points. For Bev Perdue the news is not so good. Pat McCrory has an average 14% advantage.
The reason McCrory is doing so much better than Patrick Ballantine did here is a strong standing with white Democrats. In our June 10th District poll Perdue led just 56-32 among voters in that demographic. The 8th District survey we released yesterday had Perdue up 57-31 with them. It is not a stretch to think Mike Easley won support from 80% or more of these voters in his runs for Governor.
McCrory's overwhelming appeal in the greater Charlotte area is the reason this race is so competitive in a Democratic year. The Perdue campaign is either going to have to effectively take the shine off McCrory's moderate veneer to turn the Democratic and independent voters in that region back into her column, or she's going to have to rely on Obama's machine bringing out exceptional turnout in the other urban centers of the state.
You know it's a new world order in North Carolina when the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, rather than running away from the Presidential nominee, may need his help to be elected.
As for Obama, his improved poll numbers in these districts show that it's an oversimplification to think his success is completely reliant on increased black turnout. The 10th District has a minuscule minority population yet Obama is running about ten points better there than John Kerry did. As the economy becomes a bigger and bigger issue in voters' minds, more are moving toward supporting the Democrat for President, white or black.
We are going to have three very competitive statewide races this fall.