While most North Carolina voters have their minds pretty firmly made up when it comes to voting for President, there are still a lot of votes to be had for Governor. 10% of voters are undecided in the race, and among those expressing a preference 26% say they could change their mind between now and the election. That basically means a full third of the electorate is still up for grabs and persuadable over the next five weeks.
At this point Pat McCrory has the most solid support. 79% of those planning to vote for him say their minds are completely made up. 73% of those supporting Bev Perdue say they are definitely going to vote for her. Only 43% of Michael Munger's supporters say they are solidly committed to him. Given that a majority of those planning to vote for Munger also are voting for Barack Obama, it seems likely that many of his voters would go over to Bev Perdue if she can give them more of a reason to support her in the final stretch of the campaign.
If you recalculate the state of the race with just voters who absolutely know who they are going to support for Governor you end up with Pat McCrory at 35%, Bev Perdue at 30%, and Michael Munger at 2%. While that's obviously good news for McCrory it also means that both candidates have a long way to go to the 48 or 49% it will take to win.
-The voters who don't have their minds completely made up are a very Democratic leaning group. The registration figures tell part of the story- 46% are Democrats, 28% are independents, and 26% are Republicans. But their voting preferences in other races give a greater hint- Barack Obama has a 51-35 lead with this segment of voters, and Kay Hagan leads 46-24 with them. It's another indication that Perdue hasn't done enough- yet- to excite her base voters in the way that Obama and Hagan have. But she should at least start out with a leg up in winning over these voters.
-Racially these folks have the same demographics of the electorate as a whole. Usually a disproportionately small number of swing voters are African Americans because of their general commitment to the Democratic Party, but that's not the case here. The Perdue campaign did an outstanding job of courting the black community during the primary election and probably needs to replicate those efforts rather than taking black votes for granted in the general.
-These voters are much younger than the electorate at large. 56% are under 45. A lot of these are lower information voters who know what they're doing for President but haven't given a ton of thought to the rest of the ballot. Neither campaign has actively courted this demographic on a broad scale but they are likely to be more powerful than ever before this year and could tip the election if one candidate gets a significant advantage with them.
-Geographically the regions that have the most disproportionate numbers of voters who could go either way are the Mountains and the Triad, not surprising since neither Perdue or McCrory have the strong regional bases in those places that they have in some other parts of the state.
With so many voters up for grabs truly anything could end up happening in this election. I believe a range of outcomes from a 10 point Perdue victory to a 10 point McCrory victory is possible, and the contest really will be decided by which candidate does the better job of connecting to this third of the electorate in the final month.