Thursday, January 31, 2008

Moore/Perdue Drama

Richard Moore and Bev Perdue tattled on each other and let a Republican up for reelection this year be the judge.

The result is not surprising, and just another example of how their campaigns are hurting Democratic prospects for this fall by hurling so much mud at each other.

The issue of state employees using taxpayer funded resources for political work has another interesting twist to it:
The audit of computers in Moore's office found "significant evidence of political activity using state resources" by four part-time staff members who also work on Moore's campaign.
This is a common occurrence and by no means unique to the Moore campaign. I don't know whether the Perdue campaign has people in the same situation or not- it certainly wouldn't surprise me.

Still, should people who are campaign staff be able to concurrently double on the candidate's state payroll? I don't think so. It blurs the line too much between campaign work and state work, and the last thing North Carolina's taxpayers need to fund is people doing campaign related work on the state dime. And I hate to say it, but it's not fair to the Republican candidates for Governor who don't have state budgets to keep their campaign folks on.

I know this is just the 'way things have always been.' But they shouldn't be that way. And I'm sorry the issue of blurring lines between campaign work and state work had to come to the fore because of the Democratic candidates for Governor telling on each other, but it might be a good issue for the Legislature to address this summer.

Georgia Results

Barack Obama 51
Hillary Clinton 41

Judging from the South Carolina results, it looks like Barack Obama is going to do pretty well in states like Georgia where more than a third of the Democratic primary electorate is African American.

In Georgia he gets 73% of the black vote. He trails Clinton 56-36 on the white vote, but that keeps it close enough to afford him a solid overall lead.

The gender gap in the state is minimal. Obama leads 50-42 among women and 53-39 with men.

Mitt Romney 32
John McCain 31
Mike Huckabee 24
Ron Paul 3

It looks like Georgia may play out in a way similar to Florida. It's very competitive between Romney and McCain, and anything could happen in the next week.

Like most states, the economy and the war are the top issues in the minds of Georgia Republicans, and folks who have those as their top concerns favor McCain.

What's putting Romney in the lead is immigration, which polls as the third biggest issue for likely GOP voters in Georgia, and on which he has such large lead over McCain that it trumps McCain's advantages on the biggest Republican issues.

Full results here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New York results

Hillary Clinton 45
Barack Obama 33
John Edwards 10

Obama is closing in a little on Clinton in New York. Most recent polling had shown her over 50% in the state she represents in the Senate. The key finding here is that he gets only 44% of the black vote in the state. That leaves plenty of room to improve between now and next Tuesday's primary, and if he can do that and pick up the majority of the support John Edwards had exhibited in the state, New York could be much more closely contested than might have been anticipated.

The gender gap is back in New York after not being as much a part of the equation in South Carolina. Clinton leads by 21 points among women but just 2 with men.

John McCain 34
Rudy Giuliani 20
Mitt Romney 19
Mike Huckabee 10
Ron Paul 4

Even before Rudy Giuliani decided to drop out of the race for President he was getting beat badly by John McCain in his own state. New York Republicans care most about Iraq and the economy and give their highest level of support to McCain on both those issues.

It is unclear where Giuliani's supporters will go, but they would have to support Romney in large numbers to put much of a dent in McCain's chances of taking the state.

Full results here.

Bill Graham's finance report

Bill Graham has a fascinating finance report.

First of all, he has 217 contributions and 385 expenditures. I don't think I've ever seen a finance report before where the raw number of contributions was less than the raw number of expenditures. I don't think that's ever a good sign for a campaign- even a self funding one.

Second, he hired over 50 people over the summer for contract labor. What on earth did they all do, and why doesn't it appear to have accomplished anything? If they were all doing grassroots work it doesn't seem to have been very effective.

Bill Graham is running a really bizarre campaign. With Pat McCrory in the picture, I think he's pretty much out of it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tennessee Results

Mike Huckabee 30
John McCain 26
Mitt Romney 22
Ron Paul 6
Rudy Giuliani 4

With Fred Thompson out of the race, Tennessee Republicans are still going for one of their fellow southern conservatives. The reason Huckabee's doing better here than he did in South Carolina is a greater percentage of likely GOP voters listing moral and family values as their top issue when voting. It's just behind the economy in importance in the state, and 53% of respondents who said it was their main concern chose Huckabee.

McCain leads the field among voters who cited the economy or the war as their top issue. Immigration was fourth on the list and provided a good deal of support for Romney, as our surveys have shown in Florida as well.

Hillary Clinton 43
Barack Obama 32
John Edwards 16

The results here indicate that Obama may have some trouble winning southern states that don't have the high percentage of black voters that South Carolina does. He continues to get 60% of the support of black respondents, but trails Clinton 50-22 among white respondents. Obama should inch closer to Clinton though because a lot more African American voters remain undecided than white voters, and those folks leaned his way on election day if the South Carolina exit polls were accurate.

One key finding is that the strong support from women Clinton usually benefits from that wasn't there in South Carolina appears to be back in Tennessee. She leads Obama 47-28 with female respondents.

Full crosstabs here.

The SurveyUSA Mystery Unlocked

I've pointed out several times here that I am struck by how many more people say they're decided when SurveyUSA polls in North Carolina than when we do.

For instance our last Democratic Senate primary showed Kay Hagan at 19% and Jim Neal at 7%. Theirs showed Hagan at 37% and Neal at 29%.

Republican Governor is another good example. We showed Pat McCrory at 18%, Fred Smith at 16%, Bill Graham at 13%, and Bob Orr at 8%. They had McCrory at 27%, Smith at 18%, Graham at 15%, and Orr at 6%.

Well answered the question for me:
SurveyUSA, the pollster with the smallest undecided in South Carolina (1%), typically inserts a pause in their automated script, so that respondents have to wait several seconds before hearing they can "press 9 for undecided."
The effect that pause is having in North Carolina is to get 'leaners,' people who are mostly undecided but might be leaning toward one candidate, to say they support that candidate rather than saying they're undecided. So SurveyUSA's numbers are probably a greater reflection of what would happen in the ballot booth if the election were today, but they're likely also more volatile because 'leaners' are much more likely to change their mind about who to vote for between now and the election than people who have pretty firmly made up their mind.

PPP and Civitas probably give a more solid look at what the state of the races really is today, but SurveyUSA gives more of an indication of how the vote would come down if the election was already here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Is Perdue benefiting from Easley's popularity?

Got an interesting email last night from someone wondering if the lead Bev Perdue has been showing over Richard Moore in the polls might be the result of coattails from Mike Easley's popularity.

I can see why someone might think that. Folks often think of the Lieutenant Governor as the Governor's right hand man (or in this case woman.) And Perdue has retained most of Easley's campaign team.

On the other hand though, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are elected separately in North Carolina. And Moore and Easley share a campaign manager.

I asked a close observer of North Carolina politics yesterday who he thought Easley would cast a ballot for in the privacy of the voting booth come May, and he said he genuinely had no clue.

I don't personally associate either Moore or Perdue as being closer to Easley than the other. They're just both Democratic members of the Council of State that Easley oversees.

It's an interesting question though, and something we might try to poll on next month. Any thoughts?

Florida Poll: Romney maintains lead

Mitt Romney 35
John McCain 28
Mike Huckabee 13
Rudy Giuliani 12
Ron Paul 5

Mitt Romney has opened up a seven point in Florida, based largely on support he has picked up in the last week. 40% of respondents said they made up their mind either over the weekend or in the last week. Romney has a 47-28 advantage among folks who said they decided who to vote for in the last week, and a 36-26 lead with people who decided over the weekend.

Romney also has a good amount of support in the bank, regardless of what happens in tomorrow's voting. His lead over McCain is 39-30 among the 25% of folks polled who said they had already voted.

When PPP polled Florida last week, 34% of respondents said they supported either Mike Huckabee or Rudy Giuliani. That is down to 25% now, which is an indication that voters who don't think either of those candidates is viable are deciding instead to vote for either Romney or McCain- but more of them are breaking toward Romney.

Full results here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

PPP: most accurate numbers in the country for South Carolina

Public Policy Polling is the only company in the country that correctly predicted Barack Obama would win by at least 20 points in today’s South Carolina primary.

Most outfits showed the race tightening in the closing days. PPP, however, showed Obama’s lead increasing from 13% two weeks ago to 16% earlier this week to 20% two nights before the election.

Here are what pollsters across the country predicted as the winning margin:

Public Policy Polling






Survey USA


Insider Advantage


Ron Lester&Associates


Mason Dixon


Clemson University


American Research Group


Public Policy Polling’s final survey showed Obama at 44%, Clinton at 24%, and Edwards at 19%. PPP surveyed 595 likely Democratic primary voters on January 24nd. The survey’s margin of error was +/- 4.0%.

Friday, January 25, 2008

South Carolina Poll

Barack Obama 44
Hillary Clinton 24
John Edwards 19

A lot of polls are showing the race tightening in South Carolina, but we are not. We've done three surveys in the state now, and Obama has been at 44% in each of them. Hillary Clinton went from 31% in one we did two weeks ago to 28% in one we did earlier this week to now 24% in this one. John Edwards, on the other hand, is improving. He was at 15% on Monday and has gone up now to 19%, likely because some voters who are put off by the nastiness between Clinton and Obama are headed his way.

14% of the state's likely primary voters remain undecided. If enough of them break his way and Clinton's standing continues to fall it seems conceivable Edwards could pull off a second place finish tomorrow.

Obama continues to hold a 67-13 lead over Clinton among African American voters. Edwards is up to 4% after being at just 1% earlier in the week.

Interestingly, Obama leads Clinton by even more among women than he does among men in this survey. It's 46-24 with female voters and 41-24 with males.

Obama has a solid lead in every part of the state.

At this point anything short of a big victory would be a serious disappointment for Obama in South Carolina.

Full results here.

The McCrory show continues on

After exposing nephew-gate this week, about the last place I would have expected to see myself quoted is in one of Pat McCrory's campaign emails.

Nevertheless, just got an email quoting something I wrote on the blog Wednesday:
Pat McCrory is the closest of the Republicans, trailing Bev Perdue by 2 and Richard Moore by 5. Smith is the weakest general election candidate, trailing Perdue by 13 and Moore by 17.
Who did they attribute the quote to? Tom Jenson of Public Policy Polling. Of course my name is Tom Jensen. The misspellings just keep on coming!

In relating the results of our general election match ups from earlier this week they stated:
Those are stunning numbers considering Republican voters were outpolled by Democratic voters by a whopping 9 point margin.
It simply is not a novel thing that there were more Democrats included in our poll than Republicans. As I've pointed out before Civitas, which I don't think anyone is accusing of liberal bias, included a higher percentage of Democrats in their poll this week than we did.

I guess the McCrory campaign's lack of understanding of weighting polls to represent the demographics of the population being surveyed extends beyond the nephew, unless the nephew wrote this email, which seems possible.

Anyway I was just honored that they referred to me as a 'polling expert.'

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More on Civitas

Max Borders of Civitas, not surprisingly, does not like my view of their question about illegal immigrants and the community college system. He posted about it here.

Again, here's how they worded their question:
The problem with this is that you're giving respondents two reasons to say no. Some people, probably conservatives, might say no because they don't think illegal immigrants should be able to attend local community colleges. Other people, probably liberals, might say no because they don't think the illegal immigrants should be charged out of state tuition rates if they have lived in North Carolina for much of their lives. Civitas set up the question to elicit a specific answer, and they know that.

I think my wording of the question is much more straight forward:
Do you think the children of illegal immigrants, who have attended North Carolina's public schools, should be able to attend the state's Community Colleges?
Should folks who have grown up in North Carolina and been educated in our public schools be able to continue their education in our community colleges or not? That's the thrust of the issue from my vantage. You can start addressing other parts of the issue from there but that's the big picture.

It would also be interesting to see the crosstabs on that one. Democratic gubernatorial candidates Richard Moore and Bev Perdue both came out against letting the children of illegal immigrants attend our community colleges. But if 39% of the folks Civitas polled said they agreed with the Community College system's decision, then I would guess that includes a majority of Democrats. Moore and Perdue took what they thought was the politically safe position, and maybe it insulates them in the general election, but they both missed out on an opportunity to show some leadership that would have been popular with voters in the primary.

Follow up on the war declining as an issue in North Carolina

Earlier this month after reading some national stories suggesting the war was declining as an issue for voters this year, I looked to see if that was happening in North Carolina as well.

I found that it was- and the trend has continued in our most recent polling.

When we did a statewide general election poll in November 35% of people named it as their top issue. In December that went down to 30%. In our poll this week just 22% said it was the biggest thing.

Filling in the gap is the economy and jobs. It went from 19% in November to 28% in December to 39% in January.

What candidates are benefiting from this shift? It's actually helping the Republicans a little bit. Take the US Senate race for example. Elizabeth Dole leads Kay Hagan 44-37 among people who list the economy as their biggest concern and she leads Jim Neal 45-31. Those margins are smaller than her overall lead. But for people who list the war as their major issue, Hagan is preferred 44-38 and Neal is preferred 41-37. So Dole may not do as well on the economy as other issues, but she is doing very poorly on the war and will benefit as that becomes less important to voters.

Dole's lead comes largely from polling over 70% among people who are most concerned with moral and family values or immigration.

The same trend shows in our match ups for President. Democrats generally are leading Republicans on the economy in those- but not by as much as they're leading on the war.

You can look at the issues crosstabs on this most recent survey here.

Civitas Results!

I'm getting to these a day late, but Civitas put out its newest numbers yesterday.

In the Democratic race for Governor they have Bev Perdue leading Richard Moore 34-24. The ten point margin is about in line with most recent polling. They show a higher number of undecideds than we do because they poll likely general election voters, whereas we poll only likely primary voters when we do a poll on the primary.

On the Republican side they have Pat McCrory with 19%, Fred Smith with 14%, Bill Graham with 12%, and Bob Orr with 5%. This is also pretty much in line with our most recent poll in the race. It is not in line with last week's Survey USA poll that showed McCrory up 27-18. I think that the results Civitas and we are showing are probably the more accurate picture.

In the Republican primary for President they have John McCain at 32%, Mike Huckabee at 16%, Mitt Romney at 12%, Fred Thompson at 10%, Rudy Giuliani at 9%, and Ron Paul at 4%. Both our poll and Survey USA's most recent poll showed Huckabee leading McCain by a point but I think these numbers are completely conceivable after South Carolina. McCain gained some momentum in the state and it's hard to see how Mike Huckabee is going to be able to cobble anything together to let him win the nomination.

On the Democratic side they have Barack Obama at 29%, Hillary Clinton at 28%, and John Edwards at 22%. Seems about right.

The most interesting question in their poll to me was this one:
We probably would have worded that a little differently...something like 'Do you think the children of illegal immigrants, who have attended North Carolina's public schools, should be able to attend the state's Community Colleges?'

Nonetheless 39% said they agreed with the decision and only 50% said they disagreed. I would have expected the results, especially with that verbiage, to be much more against the Community College system's decision. Wish I'd asked a question about this on our general election match ups poll earlier this week. Maybe next time.

Anyway the Civitas poll is always interesting. Check out the full results here.

Attacking the Messenger

Bob Orr wrote quite an attack on PPP on his blog last night.

Attack #1:
PPP doesn't really have any business clients, so it's not really like a legitimate polling company whose accuracy and professionalism drives its income. No, PPP is just out there doing its thing, messing around and pontificating over the results that its polls come up with.
PPP may not be looking to get rich but our accuracy and professionalism sure do drive our income, and even more importantly drive our reputation. We'll stand by our record any day. Take this column from the N&O's Public Editor in 2006 about how the N&O's pollster completely botched the Wake County School bond election while PPP got it right. Or the fact that we called the US Senate elections in Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, and New Jersey almost to the number in 2006. Or that we called the Raleigh and Cary municipal elections last fall. You would be hard pressed to find a poll PPP has ever conducted that proved to be way off.

Attack #2:
This kid and PPP have a political agenda, and the mainstream media acts like the poll was performed by the twelve disciples.
The media always identifies us as a Democratic polling company, and we certainly do not deny that we are Democrats. But the numbers we put out are the numbers we get. It doesn't make us happy when Kay Hagan or Jim Neal go down by greater margins to Elizabeth Dole. It doesn't make us happy when John McCain leads all Democrats in the state. But if that's what public opinion shows when we conduct our polls, that's what we put out.

Orr's idea:
Sometime soon you may see the creation of ORR Polling, a family operation in which my three older children, who actually are professionals in market research and polling, and I have fun doing our own polls. Then I'll pontificate on what those polling results that I've created really mean. I can see it now. "Orr leads by 30 as other candidates fall by the wayside!" And I'll be counting on lots of press coverage.
If PPP was the only polling company that showed Orr in the tank then maybe his polls showing him up by 30 points would get some press coverage. But we're actually giving him better news than some other companies. For instance the right leaning Civitas Institute had him at 5% in their poll yesterday. Survey USA had him at 6% two weeks ago. We had him at 8%.

Bottom line here: Bob Orr's campaign is not going well. We are one of the messengers bearing bad news. So he is attacking the messenger. We have a strong track record and the polls we put out are fair and legit, whether we always like the story they tell or not.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More of McCrory's garage band campaign

More and more by the day we see the flaws of Pat McCrory's self described 'garage band' campaign.

Earlier today we released the second of our polls testing general election match ups for Governor. Last month when we did that survey, McCrory narrowly trailed Bev Perdue and led Richard Moore.

This time he still trailed Perdue by a small margin, but Moore had turned a two point deficit into a five point advantage. I wouldn't be surprised if that had something to do with poll respondents having more trust in Moore's competence than McCrory's after the first week of McCrory's campaign.

Anyway, the McCrory camp clearly wasn't happy about this. So someone named PackPat1 wrote a comment on the Under the Dome blog saying that our poll was clearly biased because we did not survey an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Someone else, I'm guessing another McCrory supporter, chimed in to agree.

Their comments indicate a complete lack of knowledge about polling. Here was my response:
Packpat1 and Alterac evidently know virtually nothing about polling.

Polls are weighted to reflect the partisan distribution of the sample that is being polled. More people in North Carolina identify themselves as Democrats than Republicans, particularly in the current political climate, so more people we poll identify themselves as Democrats. Our distribution was 47-38 in this poll. In the poll that the right leaning Civitas Institute released today, the party distribution was even more Democratic - 49-38.

By your logic that we should have polled an equal number of Democrats and Republicans to be 'fair' then when people poll a heavily Republican state like South Carolina or a heavily Democratic state like Massachusetts you would get incredibly inaccurate results. When you do a poll your sample needs to reflect the political leanings of the state's voters to the greatest extent possible.

Also, Packpat 1, a simple google search reveals that you are the nephew of one of the candidates for Governor. I think if you are going to shill for him here you should be transparent about that.

When someone attacks us, I want to know who it is. So I googled packpat1 and quickly found out his real name is Patrick Sebastian. Here's a picture of him with his uncle Pat McCrory at one of McCrory's victory celebrations.

It turns out Patrick Sebastian/Packpat1 has been shilling for his uncle for quite a while. In August he had a letter to the editor in the News&Record touting his uncle's efforts on gun laws. Most of us may not have had an inkling of McCrory's gubernatorial plans until the last few months but I guess the pr efforts started a long time ago.

Folks on the blogs have had their doubts about PackPat1 for a while. On the Charlotte John Locke Foundation blog in August a commenter accused him of being the Mayor himself.

On the Dome blog last week he attacked the N&O for covering Governer-gate. He attacked Bob Orr as a 'desperate' man. Last fall he called Beverly Earle corrupt. Back in August he said 'none of the Republican candidates has a chance' and said the GOP needed to recruit a candidate with name ID. In June he told someone who accused McCrory of being a tax raiser to get their facts 'strait.' I guess the spelling issues run in the family.

Anyway, after seeing my response PackPat1 deleted his comment about our poll. Or maybe the hacker got in and deleted it, who knows. But that's why I wanted to get this information out here. It's just more sloppiness on the part of McCrory campaign to send a family member whose identity is easily traceable to attack all bad news for him on blogs- especially when their posts show them to be quite ignorant as in this case.

This garage band is sounding pretty out of tune.

PPP in the WSJ

When I woke up this morning and saw that our South Carolina poll was covered in the WSJ, I thought, o cool, Winston-Salem Journal!

But it was actually an article in the Wall Street Journal. So with all due respect to my friends in the Triad that was cooler.

Then I saw the paper- and it turned out we were on the front page!

So that was a nice thing to see.

Florida Results: Romney leads

Mitt Romney 28
John McCain 25
Rudy Giuliani 19
Mike Huckabee 15
Ron Paul 5

Folks have wondered if John McCain can win a closed primary with only Republicans voting, and our Florida poll shows that may be a real issue. Mitt Romney has a three point lead over McCain in the state.

The key to Romney's lead is the immigration issue. 15% of the state's GOP voters listed immigration as their biggest concern and within that group, 50% support Romney compared to just 14% for McCain. It isn't the biggest issue in the state- the economy and the war in Iraq were listed by more respondents- but it is the one creating the greatest separation between one candidate and the rest of the pack.

McCain leads Romney 31-25 among people most concerned about the war and 29-25 with folks most concerned about the economy, but those margins aren't enough to offset Romney's advantage among the immigration folks.

Full results here

North Carolina Governor General Elections Match Ups

Richard Moore 41 Pat McCrory 36
Bev Perdue 41 McCrory 39

Perdue 43 Bill Graham 34
Moore 37 Graham 30

Moore 40 Bob Orr 26
Perdue 43 Orr 30

Moore 44 Fred Smith 27
Perdue 43 Smith 30

The big winner here is Richard Moore. Not only does he now lead all four Republicans after trailing Bill Graham and Pat McCrory last month, but he also leads most of them by a greater margin than Bev Perdue does.

The Republican front runners right now appear to be Pat McCrory and Fred Smith, and this poll certainly shows some strong contrasts about their electability if either wins the primary. McCrory is the closest of the Republicans, trailing Perdue by 2 and Moore by 5. Smith is the weakest general election candidate, trailing Perdue by 13 and Moore by 17.

The big question is whether GOP voters are going to be willing to sacrifice some ideological purity to choose the moderate McCrory over the conservative Smith.

The key difference between Moore and Perdue's performance in this poll is that he is doing much better among voters who identify themselves as Republicans than Perdue does, showing a greater likelihood of crossover support if he is the nominee. This chart shows Moore and Perdue's deficit among GOP voters against each of the Republican candidates:















Only a few more Republican voters actually say they'll vote for Moore than say they'll vote for Perdue. But significantly more are undecided with Moore in the race than Perdue. That's an indication that GOP voters know they won't support Perdue, but at this point they're at least giving Moore a chance.

Other key findings:

-The strong regional base Pat McCrory is banking on to win the primary appears to be there for the general election as well. He earns over 60% of the vote in the greater Charlotte region against both Moore and Perdue. By comparison the rest of the Republican candidates get just 27-36% in that area in their match ups.

-Democrats hold strong leads in the Triangle, Triad, and Southeastern North Carolina in all eight matches. They also lead seven out of eight contests in the Mountains and in Northeastern North Carolina.

Full results here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

North Carolina Senate Poll

Dole Approval:

Approve 44
Disapprove 33

Elizabeth Dole 48 Kay Hagan 35
Dole 49 Jim Neal 30

Elizabeth Dole continues to be unable to get her approval rating out of the mid-40s, but the Democratic candidates vying to replace her are not getting any traction either.

Dole's lead over Kay Hagan has gone from 12 points to 13 since last month, while her lead over Neal has expanded from 15 points to 19.

One key finding is that while only 7% of Republican are undecided about Dole/Hagan and just 8% are undecided about Dole/Neal, 19% and 27% of Democrats are undecided in those two races respectively. Many Democratic voters at this point are not sure whether they'll support the Democratic alternative or just vote to reelect Dole (party identification of the candidates was given in the survey.)

The election is a long way off, but Dole is benefiting from the failure of the Democratic candidates to start going negative on her now. It will likely take ten months of attacks to knock off such a well known candidate. Neal and Hagan are rightly focusing on fundraising, but they're going to need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time to defeat Elizabeth Dole and waiting too much longer to start driving up her negatives is pretty risky.

Full results here.

North Carolina General Election Presidential Match Ups

John McCain 49 Hillary Clinton 42
McCain 48 John Edwards 42
McCain 52 Barack Obama 38

Clinton 46 Mike Huckabee 44
Edwards 46 Huckabee 44
Huckabee 49 Obama 41

Clinton 47 Rudy Giuliani 34
Edwards 50 Giuliani 37
Obama 43 Giuliani 43

Clinton 48 Mitt Romney 41
Edwards 49 Romney 38
Romney 45 Obama 43

John McCain would be the strongest nominee for President in North Carolina, leading match ups with all three Democratic hopefuls. But Democrats would do pretty well against any of the rest of the possible Republicans, as long as their nominee is not Barack Obama.

Some of the key findings:

-There are significant gender gaps in all of the possible match ups. The Democratic candidate does anywhere from 26-35 points better among women than men.

-Obama's weak performance is mostly the result of doing badly among voters of his own party. Hillary Clinton gets 72-75% of the Democratic vote in her four match ups, while John Edwards gets 68-73%. Obama, on the other hand, gets the support of just 59-66% of Democrats. A meaningful number of North Carolina Democrats aren't sure they'll vote for Obama if he's the nominee.

These numbers pretty much all point to a Democratic year in North Carolina. Even though they trail McCain, Edwards and Clinton look like they would do better than the Democratic nominee for President have done in the state since 1992. And even though Obama trails McCain by a larger margin, he's being hurt right now by Democratic voters saying they're undecided- for the most part those folks are likely to break his way when the election finally comes. It all adds up to good news for the Democratic ticket from the gubernatorial nominee on down.

Full results here.

New South Carolina Poll: Obama expands lead

Barack Obama 44
Hillary Clinton 28
John Edwards 15
Dennis Kucinich 1

It appears that Hillary Clinton's comments last week about the Civil Rights movement have moved more black voters in South Carolina into the Obama column. Our newest South Carolina survey, conducted Monday night, shows Obama now receiving 70% of the African American vote in the state, with Clinton at just 15%.

There is a remarkable disparity along racial lines in how the state's Democrats are viewing this primary. Obama receives the support of only 17% of likely white voters, with Clinton leading that demographic with 43% followed by John Edwards at 30%.

The bad news for Clinton is she is likely to get a licking this weekend. The good news for her is that none of the major Super Tuesday primaries will have an electorate that is 50% black like South Carolina- Obama is going to have to do much better than 17% among white voters in places like California or New York or he's not going to fare too well.

At the same time Clinton's going to need to do much better among women than she is in South Carolina, where currently she trails Obama 45-29 on that front.

Obama has significant leads in the Low Country and the Midlands, while trailing Clinton in the Upstate.

PPP intends to do one more South Carolina Democratic poll on Thursday night.

Full results here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What we're up to this week

Assuming all goes well:

Tonight we will run our second poll testing general election matchups for President, Senate, and Governor in North Carolina.

We'll release the results for President and Senate on Tuesday. When we did that poll last month John Edwards was the best candidate, leading all potential match ups. My guess would be that mantle will go over to John McCain this time. In the Senate race, Elizabeth Dole was over 50% against both Jim Neal and Kay Hagan last month. It'll be interesting to see if that continues while the Democratic challengers continue to run pretty quiet campaigns.

We'll release the results for Governor on Wednesday. Last month Bev Perdue was leading all four possible match ups, while Richard Moore led two of four, trailing Bill Graham and Pat McCrory. My guess for this month is that each of the Democrats will be leading three of four match ups but trailing McCrory.

Tonight we'll also run a South Carolina Democratic Presidential poll. When we did one a week and a half ago, Barack Obama had a 13 point lead over Hillary Clinton in the state. We'll see if Nevada gave her any momentum- I doubt it. One thing that could cause a shift is even more support falling away from John Edwards after his pitiful Nevada showing- will those folks go over to Clinton or Obama? We'll release those numbers tomorrow, and poll South Carolina one more time Thursday night before Saturday's contest.

Tomorrow night we'll run a Florida Republican poll and release that Wednesday. Are Rudy Giuliani's hopes going to slip further away or will his unusual strategy be validated? Can John McCain win a closed primary? Is Mitt Romney going to win any states that his fellow candidates take seriously too? We'll try to get some answers to those questions. We'll also run a second Florida poll Sunday night.

Stay tuned to PPP this week for all sorts of polling fun.

A column the Perdue and Moore campaigns need to read

D.G. Martin is a pretty wise guy and folks will generally be better off if they listen to what he has to say. That's particularly true of his column this week.

It's about how in both 1972 and 1984, the two times in modern history when Republican Governors were elected to their first terms, Democrats were hurt by extremely negative primaries on their side.

Now certainly the biggest factors causing Democratic losses in those years were George McGovern and Walter Mondale. But primaries that leave whoever emerges with significant negatives right off the bat are never a good thing.

It would be nice if Bev Perdue and Richard Moore could find a way to run successful campaigns without dragging each other so far down. I'm not saying no negativity but the current level is ridiculous.

We're polling general election matchups for Governor again this week and my guess is that Pat McCrory will be leading both Moore and Perdue. The general is a ways off but I still think it's time for the Democratic candidates to look at the big picture and how the way they're doing things could turn the office over to a Republican.

Check out Martin's column here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

South Carolina Polls: how we stacked up

By my count, nine companies did polls in South Carolina the last week before the Republican primary.

Six out of nine projected a John McCain victory in their final poll. The three that didn't were American Research Group, Insider Advantage, and Rasmussen.

No company got the John McCain/Mike Huckabee/Fred Thompson/Mitt Romney lineup correct but I think that's because Thompson probably passed Romney as late as election day when Romney failed to give the state much attention after winning Michigan.

The two companies that came closest to getting the race right were Mason Dixon on behalf of McClatchy and Survey USA. The former uses live interviewers, the latter uses the IVR technology we do.

Survey USA had McCain winning by four and Romney just a point up on Thompson while Mason Dixon had McCain winning by two and Romney up a couple on Thompson. The final margin was 3.3%.

Clemson, Fox, and us all showed McCain with a 7-8 point lead. We did a more accurate job on the Romney/Thompson dynamic than they did- we had Romney up a point on Thompson in our last poll while they had Romney up by three or four. In Clemson's defense their poll was done over the course of a week so some of their data was older than ours.

The ninth company, Zogby, got the McCain/Huckabee closer than we did but was off on the Romney/Thompson dynamic, showing Romney up four.

I think if we do a Democratic poll this week we'll probably do it on Thursday instead of Wednesday- I imagine we would have been closer on the McCain/Huckabee margin doing it a night later.

Still I'd say we were there with Zogby right behind Mason Dixon and Survey USA for accuracy out of the nine companies doing South Carolina, so not too bad. And the fact that both us and Survey USA did a pretty good job is a positive point for the technology we use- I guess not too many 14 year old males answered our surveys and claimed to be senior citizen women as folks like to claim happens when pollsters use IVR.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Moore Campaign Disingenuous

I criticized Bev Perdue this morning so I'll criticize Richard Moore this afternoon.

Campaign staffer Eli Kaplan went to BlueNC to say that 'we have a tremendous opportunity to retain the governorship this year' and insinuate that Perdue declining to debate Moore on WRAL was somehow going to be an impediment to that.

The biggest impediment I see ten months out from the general election to Democrats retaining the Governor's Mansion is the escalation of attacks between the Moore and Perdue campaigns, driving up both candidates' negatives. Although blame certainly lies on both sides, Moore's campaign has probably been more nasty, more often, and certainly started earlier.

Criticizing Perdue for failing to debate is perfectly fair game. But couching it in terms of Democratic electability this fall is pretty disingenuous for a campaign that has savaged and will doubtless continue to savage its primary opponent.

Do the debates matter?

I'll be quite honest. I didn't watch the GOP gubernatorial debate last night. UNC had a home women's basketball game, I'm a season ticket holder, and it wasn't a very hard choice.

I didn't watch the debates on WUNC last week either. I can't remember what I was doing but it seemed more appealing than watching a debate three and a half months before the election and after reading a bunch of press coverage of it I don't think I missed much.

I'm glad these debates are getting a lot of attention from the media. They're certainly better than battling he said/she said press releases. But I don't think they matter very much.

They're mostly being paid attention to by people who are paid to pay attention to them and by folks who are already partisans of one candidate or the other. The press coverage of them is too bland to have much effect on the perceptions people who didn't watch the debates have of the candidates. So I think it's safe to say they're not moving many votes.

The main way they could have an impact is if a candidate said something unfortunate that turned into an instant youtube classic. I would guess that's why Bev Perdue has rejected several debate invitations that Richard Moore has agreed to. When she's focused and on message, Perdue is a very effective and dynamic speaker. But when she veers off path, particularly during her first term as Lieutenant Governor, she can say things that leave people shaking their heads. I have a feeling she'll be at her most disciplined during this campaign but there's no doubt that the fewer debates there are, the less likely she is to make a bad mistake. And a bad mistake by one of the candidates is probably the only way these debates are going to have a real impact.

Raleigh Issues Poll

Tuesday night we conducted a poll on four current issues in Raleigh:

Mayor Meeker has proposed a temporary 50% increase in water rates to help encourage people to conserve water during our drought conditions. Do you support his plan?

Yes 27
No 64

A lot of the time when there's a big public outcry over a political issue, especially at the local level, it's a loud minority trumping a silent majority. This is not one of those cases. There's not much support from the electorate for handling the water crisis in this particular way. It's no big surprise that only 16% of Republicans support the plan, but even 56% of Democrats are opposed to it.

A coalition of neighborhoods in Raleigh has proposed an interim moratorium on teardowns, the practice of tearing down an existing house and replacing it with a new one, while the Planning Department comes up with a long term approach for solving the issue. Would you support an interim moratorium on teardowns?

Yes 52
No 38

Teardowns have been one of the hottest issues in Raleigh city politics over the last few months. A majority of likely voters support the city putting a stop to this practice while it takes a step back to take a wider, more long term look at how to solve the problem. There are significant gender and party disparities in how Raleigh voters view this issue. While women support a moratorium 58-29, men oppose it 47-46. 61% of Democrats support it, while just 35% of Republican do.

Mayor Meeker has proposed doubling impact fees that developers of new homes and businesses pay to cover costs incurred by growth like new streets and parks to bring them closer to the state average. Would you support a doubling in impact fees?

Yes 71
No 21

This issue is always extremely popular with the voters of Raleigh. They want developers to pay their fair share for the cost of growth, as was shown visibly through last fall's election. While the city continues to study the issue, it appears that there is a significant mandate from its residents to go ahead with a plan to double the fees. Interestingly, there is bipartisan support for this concept. It's not big surprise that 77% of Democrats are in favor of it, but 60% of Republicans are too.

Would you support a half cent increase in property taxes to make improvements to the City of Raleigh’s bus system?

Yes 32
No 57

There is not much support for raising taxes to enhance the city's bus system at this time.

Bottom line: parts of the Meeker agenda are popular with the electorate, others less so. But if the City Council wants to take some steps to address the nagging issues of impact fees and teardowns, they will have the strong support of their electorate.

Full results here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A good idea from Bill Graham

I didn't think I'd ever write a blog post with that headline.

But his proposal to provide live video on the internet of the Legislature just makes sense.

I'm sure I was the dorkiest kid on the block but I always enjoyed watching the Michigan Legislature growing up, which had a whole tv channel devoted to broadcasting its doings. There's really no downside to it that I can see.

Of course it's not exactly the kind of big idea that a gubernatorial campaign is needed to move forward. The folks in the Legislature ought to just make this happen on their own.

South Carolina Republican Senate Poll

Lindsey Graham 52
Mark McBride 8
Buddy Witherspoon 5
Tim Carnes 4
John Cina 3

When it comes to the controversy over Lindsey Graham's voting record within South Carolina Republican circles, it appears the bark is worse than the bite. Even with four people challenging him in the primary, Graham is at 52% with none of his opponents polling any better than 8%.

Even among voters who said their top issue was immigration Graham leads McBride 37-15. Graham's stance on comprehensive immigration reform has drawn a lot of criticism. But it appears the number of likely GOP primary voters who will vote on a single issue to punish Graham for his position is limited.

In 2006 when Mark Sanford earned just 65% of the vote in the Republican primary running for reelection it was speculated as a sign of vulnerability for the general election, but he ended up winning by a pretty significant margin. Unless the opposition to Graham somehow consolidates in the form of one strong primary challenger with enough resources to run a strong campaign, it looks like he should be pretty safe for renomination.

Full results here

South Carolina Republican Presidential Poll

Public Policy Polling conducted a second poll on the Republican Presidential primary in South Carolina last night. The results:

John McCain 28
Mike Huckabee 20
Mitt Romney 18
Fred Thompson 17
Ron Paul 4
Rudy Giuliani 4

The key finding here is that the results of Michigan didn't really do anything to alter the landscape in South Carolina. With some small shifts, everyone is in the same place they were when we polled the race late last week. McCain is at the same 28%, his lead over Huckabee has increased from seven points to eight. Romney only went up one point after winning Michigan. The biggest gainer is Fred Thompson, who has been campaigning heavily in the state and went from 14 to 17. Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul each drop a point, going from 5 to 4.

The biggest outcome of the South Carolina primary may be the virtual death of Mike Huckabee's candidacy. If he can't win a state with as many evangelicals as South Carolina, it's hard to see where he can win in the upcoming primaries. If his strategy is to sweep to the nomination by cleaning up in the southern states, there is other bad news in Public Policy Polling's recent surveys. For instance a North Carolina poll conducted last week showed a 16 point lead he held in December dropping to one.

Even with the high number of evangelicals in the state, only 12% identified moral and family values as the issue they're most concerned with. Huckabee holds a significant 43-19 lead over those folks. The top three issues for Republican voters in the state though are the economy, immigration, and the war. On the economy, McCain leads with 35% to 18% for Huckabee and Romney. Romney and Thompson are knotted for the most support with folks most concerned about immigration at 27% with McCain behind at 20%. On the war, McCain leads Romney 38-16.

It just doesn't appear that many evangelicals in the state are making religious views a main criterion when they think about voting in the primary. And that's bad news for Mike Huckabee.

McCain leads all three parts of the state. In the Low Country he leads Romney 30-23. In the Midlands he leads Huckabee 30-23. In the Upstate he leads 25-21 over Huckabee.

Full results here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More SurveyUSA

SurveyUSA also did a poll for our Senate primary:

Kay Hagan 37
Jim Neal 29

This one is really a mystery to me since we had it at 19-7 last week. Survey USA obviously asks its questions in a different way than us or somehow provides much more information about them than we do to have the two candidates with a combined 66% when we have them at a combined 26%.

In this instance I am pretty sure our numbers are a more accurate reflection of what's happening out there. These candidates are not very well known and that makes it hard for me to believe either of them has that much support at this point.

I always think the crosstabs by how people describe their ideology are interesting in Survey USA's polls since we don't ask about that. In some quarters this race has been described as a contest between the liberal wing on the party in Neal and the moderate/conservative wing of the party in Hagan. But that construct is not playing itself out in the polling numbers. Hagan leads 37-30 among liberals and 37-31 among moderates. So no real difference there.

Full poll.

I still think it's time for Kay Hagan and Jim Neal to get much more aggressive in going after Elizabeth Dole sooner than later, as I wrote about Monday. I may have more on that later this week.

Will Pat McCrory follow the same route as Fred Thompson?

Around the middle of last year Republicans in North Carolina were unhappy with their choices for President. They didn't know a lot of the candidates, and the candidates they did know they weren't particularly enthralled with.

Then Fred Thompson started talking about entering the race. Folks didn't really know him either. But they knew at least it was a new face in the race and that they didn't like the folks who were already in.

So he started leading our polls even before he entered the race, and for two months after he finally joined in September he continued to lead them.

But a funny thing happened. The more folks got to know Thompson, the less they thought he'd be a good President. And as time went on they got to know Mike Huckabee a lot better, and decided that they actually liked him a lot more than they liked Thompson. And now in January Thompson is fourth in the state while Huckabee, who wasn't even in the picture three months ago, is in the lead.

The Republican Governors race is basically where the Presidential race was eight months ago. The candidates haven't been capturing the electorate's attention. Now Pat McCrory is the new guy in the race and a lot of people getting polled are thinking that he must be better than the folks already running. That's showing in the two polls over the last week by us and SurveyUSA that have McCrory in the lead.

The voters still don't really know McCrory though. It's entirely possible that over the next four months GOP voters will decide they don't think he's that great either. And maybe as they get to know Bob Orr or Fred Smith or Bill Graham better in the ensuing weeks, they'll decide like they did with Huckabee that they really do like one of them.

McCrory's definitely the front runner now though, and it'll be interesting to see if he can keep it up through the primary, or if he's the next Fred Thompson.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Survey USA North Carolina poll

Pat McCrory 27
Fred Smith 18
Bill Graham 15
Bob Orr 6

This poll was conducted Friday through Monday. I think the mass of press coverage that McCrory got over the weekend probably pushed him up a little higher than in the poll we did last Wednesday. The survey shows him doing a little better outside Charlotte than ours did.

McCrory leads Fred Smith by only five points among the 68% of respondents who identified themselves as conservatives but leads with 31% among moderates to 14% for Bill Graham and 12% for Smith.

Full poll

Bev Perdue 45
Richard Moore 36

Something that's interesting in both this poll and the poll Survey USA did in the state in November is that they show a lot fewer undecideds in the Governors race than we do. I'm not sure what they do differently that has that result.

The nine point lead for Perdue is in line with what most of our recent polling has shown, as well as what Survey USA did in November. I think our poll last week showing Perdue up 16 points may have been an outlier but I guess we'll see as we get closer to the election.

Full poll

Mike Huckabee 28
John McCain 27
Fred Thompson 15
Mitt Romney 10
Rudy Giuliani 10

Virtually identical to our poll last week except SUSA shows Fred Thompson doing better and Mitt Romney doing worse. Not sure what to chalk that up to.

Full poll

Barack Obama 36
Hillary Clinton 32
John Edwards 21

I think this is the first North Carolina poll to show Obama with an outright lead. It's also about the poorest Edwards has polled in the state I think.

Full poll

McCrory campaign botches the heck out of announcement

In politics, even when you think you've got everything planned out to the smallest detail it can all go to hell.

I'd say that's what happened with Pat McCrory's announcement this afternoon.

The campaign spelled 'governor' wrong in its press release.

When asked about it, his campaign manager said she thought someone hacked into their system and changed the spelling.

I don't think anyone really bought that.

Then a spokesperson for his campaign admitted that they screwed up. She gave an explanation that was entirely reasonable, and certainly forgivable, if a little sloppy on a part of the campaign.

That would have been the end of it.

But then his campaign manager refuted the spokesperson's very reasonable (and detailed) explanation and insisted once again that the hackers did it.

The McCrory announcement created a lot of buzz alright. But the buzz is that he has a bunch of bumbling morons running his campaign. And that the campaign is already trying to deflect responsibility for its mistakes. Not exactly the image a candidate who says he wants to change business as usual in Raleigh wants to convey.

I guess the good news for Pat McCrory is that it can only get better from here.

Reviewing the McCrory announcement

I think Pat McCrory may have summed up his candidacy for Governor in about the last thing he said in his announcement speech: "We're going to create a vision for this state." Usually when you decide to run for Governor you already have a vision, not the need to create one. Over the last couple months as McCrory has contemplated the race many observers have wondered what his motivation is. I don't have much more of a clue after seeing his announcement speech than I did before.

Here are my observations:

-It sounded like his big issue is going to be gangs and crime. He talked about other stuff but for the most part it was cursory mentions. I don't see that as a burning statewide issue that the electorate is particularly concerned about, but I guess we'll find out if that's what he's running on.

-In an effort I think to show that he has ties to several places in the state he declared that he got his values in Jamestown, his education in Salisbury, and his leadership in Charlotte. Those places are all on I-85 and I don't see him doing very well in locations that aren't. That's certainly what our polls have been showing.

-He pretty much didn't talk about his accomplishments in Charlotte. I thought a key thrust of the campaign would be 'look at all the amazing things I did in Charlotte and if you elect me Governor I can make it happen statewide.' But there was none of that in this speech.

So I'm still not real sure what this campaign is about. But I guess we'll find out in the coming months.

Sexiest Presidential Candidates Poll

PPP asked South Carolina voters who they thought the sexiest candidate for President of either party was. The results:

John Edwards 16
Mitt Romney 11
Hillary Clinton 11
Barack Obama 10
John McCain 4
Fred Thompson 3
Mike Huckabee 2
Rudy Giuliani 1
None of the candidates are sexy 41

Some Republicans have claimed that the media is giving more attention to the Democratic candidates because of liberal bias. But this poll shows that maybe it's just because the Democrats are sexier. Even in heavily Republican South Carolina, 37% of respondents chose a Democrat while just 21% chose a Republican. Of course the big winner was 'none of the candidates are sexy' with 41%.

The poll also shows that sexy isn't enough to get folks to vote for you. Among Republicans, Mitt Romney was the top choice in the sexy primary with 17%, but he was third in the Presidential primary. John McCain, leading for President, ties for fourth for sexiness among Republicans with Hillary Clinton!

Among Democrats it's a three way tie with John Edwards and Hillary Clinton at 23% and Barack Obama just behind at 22%. Sadly for Edwards' Presidential hopes, more Democratic primary voters think he's the sexiest candidate than think he's the best candidate for President. He received just 16% in that poll.

When we've tested possible general election matchups in Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina they've all shown John Edwards as the strongest possible Democratic nominee because of the crossover support he can earn from Republicans. That trend continues to the sexiness primary. Edwards is second behind Romney among likely GOP primary voters.

Anyway, full results and crosstabs here.

Pat McCrory announcement: what I'll be watching

It will be very interesting to see what Pat McCrory says this afternoon in Jamestown. The basic question is whether he's going to run on his record in Charlotte or whether he's going to try to remake himself as a conservative.

Both strategies have their positives and negatives. McCrory has shown strong leadership as the Mayor of Charlotte. His status as a moderate (and Democrats nominating one bad candidate after another) has allowed him to do much better at the polls than a Republican should do in Charlotte. He can make a strong case to Republican primary voters that he's the only nominee who could end 16 years of Democratic control of the Governor's mansion.

At the same time, his greatest successes are on things like light rail, which aren't necessarily going to be real popular with Republican primary voters. One close observer of the race told me recently that he fully expects Bill Graham and Fred Smith will run attack ads on McCrory saying that he wants to bring light rail to all 100 counties of the state. That seems a little extreme, and I don't know how effective it would be, but it certainly seems plausible.

The ultimate question if McCrory runs a campaign focused on his record as Mayor is whether GOP voters are willing to sacrifice some ideological purity in exchange for electability.

The other strategy McCrory can pursue is remaking himself as a conservative, picking some wedge issues and really hammering on them. That's what Bill Graham has done with immigration and the gas tax. If he does that, he would need to be able to back up his campaign rhetoric with some proof of prior interest in the issues. GOP primary voters can smell a phony, and if he tries to make himself into something that his past record doesn't back up, he'll get hammered for it.

I think he'll probably run on his record. And that's what he should do. Then it'll be up to Republican primary voters to decide whether they want a nominee with an explicit conservative agenda who will get smoked by Bev Perdue or Richard Moore, or whether they're willing to nominate someone who is more in the middle but also more viable in November.

We'll know more soon.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A memo to Kay Hagan and Jim Neal.

Ok guys. You've been in the race for almost three months each. And neither of you is polling over 20%. An active Democrat I talked to recently called your campaigns 'comatose.'

I know you're busy raising money. That's understandable. But you're not going to beat Elizabeth Dole by doing one thing at a time.

You need to start attacking. Now. It's going to take ten months of non stop attacks to have a chance at knocking her off. So get to it.

I keep reading that you're making lots of speeches to small groups across the state. That's good. If you go to give a speech somewhere, put out a press release about how Dole has never been there in the six years she's 'served' us in the Senate, and that you're going to be a different kind of Senator. A Senator who actually represents North Carolina and comes back here on the weekends and gets out of the car and talks to real North Carolinians.

You're barely ever in the news. The reality is that just doing your thing doesn't get you in the news. Look at the Governors race. Fred Smith, Bill Graham, and Bob Orr have been running pretty low key campaigns. They're not getting all that much attention. Bev Perdue and Richard Moore are drawing blood. They're getting plenty of attention.

Start drawing blood. But don't draw each other's blood. Draw Dole's blood. Starting now, at least two times a week, send out a press release outlining how her tenure has been bad for North Carolina. There's no shortage of issues or opportunities to do it.

And I'll tell you what, going back to that money thing. Democrats in North Carolina are looking for someone who's really willing to take on Dole. You start bringing her down, you'll also start bringing in more cash. People don't want to make an investment until they see that you're willing to fight. So start fighting. And I don't mean next month. I mean tomorrow.

I'm one of those undecided voters. I'm going to vote for whoever is going to really be willing to give it to Dole, because that's the only chance we're going to have at winning this thing.

That's your free advice from this pollster.

Chatting with Bob Orr

I met up with Bob Orr for coffee this morning. He wanted to chat because he thinks I've been underestimating his chances at getting elected Governor.

He pointed out to me that he has a history of winning races no one thought he had a chance in. When he was elected to the Court of Appeals in 1988, he was the first Republican to win a statewide judicial race in North Carolina during the 20th century.

He also said he thinks our polls aren't telling the whole story because he believes that he will get a significant number of votes from folks who aren't necessarily regular primary voters. Since we survey people who voted in either the 2004 or 2006 primary, folks who don't fit that category aren't getting called.

He thinks that at this point there is a solid 10% of the GOP primary electorate solidly committed to him and that the other candidates have 8-10% as well. He believes that Fred Smith and Bill Graham are probably polling higher based on name recognition drawn from their respective BBQ tour and paid media campaign, but that a lot of that is weak support that won't necessarily be there come election day.

He grants he won't have as much money as the other candidates. But he also thinks that the folks who bother to vote in a primary will really take the time to figure out who the candidates are and make an informed vote rather than a random choice based on a tv ad they saw or a piece of mail they received. And that when they really give it some thought, he'll be in good shape.

I don't think there's much doubt Orr is the most substantive candidate on the Republican side. Whether substance wins out in statewide elections is a much more iffy question. It'll be interesting to see.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

South Carolina Results: Obama, McCain lead

PPP did a poll on the Presidential primaries in South Carolina Friday and Saturday. Here are the results:

Barack Obama 44
Hillary Clinton 31
John Edwards 16
Dennis Kucinich 1

Barack Obama appears to be getting an 'Oprah bounce' in South Carolina, leading Hillary Clinton 42-37 among women. Clinton is not going to win any states where she doesn't carry the female vote, and this is one that fits that category right now.

There's also been a lot of speculation that Obama needed to put up a strong performance somewhere before he really got a strong hold on the black vote. His victory in Iowa appears to have allowed him to make that gain in the Palmetto State, where 68% of African Americans said they would give Obama their votes.

Obama leads the Midlands and the Low Country by significant margins. Things are closer in the Upstate, where John Edwards was born. There Obama and Clinton are knotted at 32%, with Edwards just behind with 28%.

It seems doubtful with Obama expanding his lead in South Carolina that Clinton will be able to come back for a victory in the next two weeks. That said, no one is likely to underestimate her after New Hampshire. Nonetheless it appears a victory in Nevada this weekend is imperative to Clinton's chances. The momentum that would result from Obama claiming victories on consecutive Saturdays could derail the Clinton campaign.

John McCain 28
Mike Huckabee 21
Mitt Romney 17
Fred Thompson 14
Rudy Giuliani 5
Ron Paul 5

John McCain is getting a lot more momentum off his victory in New Hampshire than Mike Huckabee got from taking Iowa.

It's been assumed that Huckabee would do well in the state because of the high number of evangelicals voting in the Republican primary, but only 16% of respondents to the poll listed moral and family values as the issue of greatest concern to them. As expected Huckabee is the choice of 52% of those folks. But more respondents chose the economy and jobs (27%), the War in Iraq (21%), and immigration (21%) as their top issue. McCain leads Huckabee 37-18 among voters who are most concerned with the economy and 36-15 with people most concerned about the war. Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson tied as the top choice of respondents who listed immigration as their top priority.

McCain has a wide lead in the Low Country, while leading Huckabee by small margins in the Upstate and the Midlands.

Full results here.

An invitation for the Moore campaign

Following up on my post Friday about how Richard Moore, the candidate himself, insinuated that PPP's numbers were biased toward Bev Perdue because one of her staffers used to work here, I sent Jay Reiff, Moore's campaign manager, this invitation tonight:

Dear Mr. Reiff,

I was interested to see the Treasurer’s comments to the News&Record indicating that he thought Public Policy Polling’s surveys of the Democratic race for Governor were not credible because someone who used to work here is now employed by the Perdue campaign. In case you have not seen them, here is the link.

Although I can assure you that is most certainly not the case, I think transparency is the best response when situations like this arise. So I would like to invite you or the Treasurer to come and join me in the office when we conduct our next poll in your race. Usually we run the poll from about 6 to 9 PM one night and then process and weight the results the next morning. I’d be happy to schedule it for a time that would suit your schedules. I am eager for the opportunity to ease the Moore campaign’s fears that things are not above board in Public Policy Polling’s numbers.

If you accept my invitation I will have to extend a similar invitation to Zach Ambrose with the Bev Perdue campaign for the sake of fairness.

I’d also like to thank you for your campaign’s touting of our numbers on your website earlier during the campaign. One of the things that most helps a polling company gain credibility is when candidates and their staffs promote their numbers and take them seriously, so I am grateful to you for that.

I will look forward to your response.

Best wishes,

Tom Jensen

An interesting editorial about McCrory

The Charlotte City Council, controlled by Democrats, didn't like Pat McCrory's committee assignments so they voted to create a bipartisan committee to study how those appointments are made and consider whether to change the process.

Despite their vote, McCrory has flat out refused to appoint the committee. Now the Democrats are responding by threatening to strip him of his appointment power.

This outlined in an editorial in today's Charlotte Observer.

I found this interesting on a couple levels:

1) Refusing to abide by a vote of the City Council? That's pretty remarkable. If he gets elected Governor, is he going to refuse to abide by decisions of the Legislature? Try to personally stifle the decisions of boards and commissions that he doesn't agree with? I think the four year war that would be likely to occur between McCrory and the parts of state government that would continue to be under Democratic control would probably be the Capital Press Corps' dream. Unless he realized that he just could not run the state with the same iron fist with which it seems he has tried to run Charlotte.

2) McCrory has made it clear that he is not going to resign as Mayor while he campaigns for Governor. I think that just enhances the handicap of entering the race with less than four months until the primary even more. Is he going to be willing to be a much less active Mayor and skip a bunch of meetings so that he can go to fundraisers and campaign events across the state? Is he going to be willing to concede a few inches on things like how committee assignments are made so that it does not distract from his campaigning? He's been a very hands on leader but it's hard to see how he can win this four month primary without taking a major step back to focus on the election. And if he does take that step back, will it antagonize Charlotte Republicans who resent his not fully doing a job he was reelected to just two months ago?

I guess we'll find out all the answers soon enough.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Richard Moore attacks PPP

The polls aren't going the way Richard Moore wants them to so he's attacking PPP. From Mark Binker's Decision 2008 blog:
Richard Moore took issue with Public Policy Polling's latest survey that showed Perdue opening up a double-digit lead in the primary.

"That polling outfit, I really don't think you guys should even be carrying it. A good poll does not use a computer," Moore said. He also noted that PPP's former chief pollster now works for the Perdue campaign.

The latter part of Moore's statement shows the campaign getting a little bit off message. In the past they've attacked our polls because of our methodology and although there's no evidence showing that the way we do our polls is any less accurate than live interviews, it's at least a common complaint.

Claiming that Perdue is up in our polls because someone who works for her used to be on our staff is ridiculous though. We don't give one rat who the Democratic nominee for Governor is. I've praised Moore and Perdue and I've criticized Moore and Perdue. The numbers we release each month are what the voices of Democratic primary voters who answer our polls tell us, and right now they're telling us they prefer Bev Perdue. If they start telling us they prefer Richard Moore, then that's what we'll release. We don't have a dog in this fight.

Moore's claim is pretty darn far fetched and what it shows is that his campaign is willing to grab at any little thing it can to try to diminish the credibility of polling that doesn't bode well for his candidacy. That makes me doubt that they really have any concerns about our methodology. If the problem was really IVR, they wouldn't have written stuff on their website touting our results in days when the numbers were better for them, and they wouldn't have gone down the Justin works for Perdue route. Our methodology would probably be fine if the numbers were reversed.

Moore has trailed in every independent poll released during this campaign as far as I know so perhaps instead of attacking the pollsters he should change the direction of his campaign so more of the folks we call say they support him. I know attacking a Democratic polling company sure isn't going to win him any more votes in the primary.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

January Republican Tracking Poll: the Other Stuff

Lieutenant Governor:

Greg Dority 19
Robert Pittenger 17

Pittenger is the odds on favorite with much more money and support from the GOP establishment. But for now it seems Dority's name recognition from his Congressional campaigns is doing more for him than Pittenger's as a state senator. Dority leads in five out of six regions of the state, while Pittenger leads his base in Charlotte with the support of 50% of respondents.


Bill Daughtridge 17
Dale Folwell 11

Full results here.

January Republican Tracking Poll: Governor

Pat McCrory 18
Fred Smith 16
Bill Graham 13
Bob Orr 8
Elbie Powers 2

McCrory goes from second in last month's poll to the lead in advance of the official announcement of his candidacy next week.

What's interesting about McCrory's rise is that he still hasn't gained any support outside his base. His increase is attributable to rising support in the Charlotte area. Last month his standing in his home region was 44%. Now it's up to 57%. He's received an amazing amount of media coverage locally as he's contemplated the campaign and that attention is improving his numbers.

McCrory continues to poll in single digits in every other part of the state except the Mountains, parts of which are in the Charlotte TV market.

By comparison, Fred Smith polls in double digits in 5 out of 6 regions, Bill Graham does in 4 out of 6, and Bob Orr does in 3 of 6. McCrory leads despite hitting double digits in just two.

It's going to be hard to get to 40% just by doing well in the Charlotte media market. McCrory begins his campaign as the favorite for the GOP nomination, but his success will depend on how hard he is willing to work to reach out to voters in the rest of the state.

The Republican results without McCrory included hardly seem relevant at this point but here they are:

Fred Smith 21
Bill Graham 17
Bob Orr 11
Elbie Powers 2

Full results here.
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