Thursday, November 6, 2008

Governor Perdue: How She Did It

In a year where 'everything changed' in North Carolina politics, one thing didn't. The Democrats retained control of the Governor's mansion thanks to the votes of people, particularly in the state's rural areas, who went Republican for President and Democratic for Governor.

Bev Perdue, although she did quite well in the state's urban areas and pulled off a remarkable win in Pat McCrory's Mecklenburg County, still ran a good deal behind Barack Obama in the state's two largest counties. A decent number of folks in those places were attracted to Pat McCrory's message about doing more for the cities and voted the Obama/McCrory ticket:








Obama +99k




Obama +36k




Obama +135k

So if Obama won the state by about 10k votes, and Perdue ran about 135k votes behind him in the state's two largest counties, how did she outrun him by 150k votes statewide?

She won in a great number of places where Obama lost across the state. In western North Carolina Perdue won victories in Swain, Haywood, Madison, Yancey, and Alleghany Counties, all of which Obama lost. In the central part of the state she picked up wins where he didn't in Montgomery, Lee, Rockingham, and Person counties. And she really outran Obama in her native eastern North Carolina, taking Columbus, New Hanover, Duplin, Sampson, Onslow, Lenoir, Wayne, Jones, Craven, Pamlico, Beaufort, Tyrrell, Perquimans, Chowan, Greene, Franklin, Nash, and Dare Counties where he did not.

She did well in these places that voted Republican for President because she made herself out as a forceful advocate for rural areas and small towns, and had the record to back up her rhetoric. Her campaign also did a good job of casting doubt about whether a McCrory administration would be a good thing for folks off the 40/85 corridor, and he never adequately addressed those concerns.

The Yankee trash issue was a game changer in the Governor's race. Perdue's poll numbers weren't where they needed to be on her home base in early October. On our final two pre-trash ad polls Perdue led in the east by an average of six points. On the three polls we did after she started working that issue she led by an average of 16. Eastern North Carolina cast about 30% of the vote, so that ten point improvement in the stretch run of the campaign was worth three points statewide, or the equivalent of her margin of victory.

It was not inevitable that Bev Perdue would be elected Governor. The Republican Governors Association spent six million dollars on negative ads against Perdue, roughly a couple million more than the Alliance for North Carolina spent against McCrory. The imbalance was particularly great in September, and that allowed McCrory to take the lead for the first and only time in our polls on September 30th.

But campaigns that close well win. In both the primary and the general, the Perdue campaign lost the month two months before the election (March and September.) But she and her team did a remarkably good job in both April and October, and that's why she beat two tough opponents and took the Governor's Mansion.

1 comment:

Anne H. Williams said...

I have known Dr. Beverly Perdue(what we use to call her)
since she first ran for the Legislature. We worked together for
four years at a the county hospital. She and I developed a
Geriatric Case Management Program for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Bev wrote the million dollar grant. I knew the day she informed me that the County Commissioners would not support her to run for the Legislature that she was going to be a winner.
You never tell one of her calaber that they cannot do something they really want to do. The reason I knew, was because I knew her abilities, values, talents, and how very brilliant she was then and is now.
You can give many reasons why Bev won this election but I can tell you she won because she wanted to win more than anything. We talked about this as long as 23 years ago when she first ran for the Legislature. If you had traveled all over the country with her, as I have, and evaluated her as she spoke to hundreds of people about our program you could have determined her tenacity and energy
to be the very best at everything she did.

As her friend and former employee I am not the least bit surprised or
amazed at this election. I knew in
my heart for all these years she was and is a winner. I am indeed proud of my friend and former employer. I worked very hard for her to accomplish this life long goal.I am sure she will be the best
Governor North Carolina has ever
had ---thats a promise.

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