With black turnout in North Carolina likely to be down in 2010 from its lofty 2008 levels, one of the things whichever Democrat steps forward to challenge Richard Burr may need to do in order to win is get a bigger chunk of the white vote within his/her party than candidates this year did.
Based on our final polls, PPP estimates that Barack Obama won the white Democratic vote in the state about 71-28, Bev Perdue won it about 72-26, and Kay Hagan took it by about a 76-21 margin. That's a lot of folks crossing over to the Republicans in each of those races.
Heath Shuler isn't very well known to Democrats anywhere in the state outside the Mountains. But the way he polls with white Democrats there is a good sign if he decides to make a run for it next year. He leads Burr 68-15 with that demographic in his home region. Allocate the undecideds and that's an 82-18 edge for Shuler with white Democrats, a much better performance than any of the party's trio at the top of the ticket achieved last year. There's no guarantee that Shuler would be as well received in the rest of the state as he is at home but that's still a good sign for his prospects.
We found last month that Roy Cooper has a similar strength statewide- at this point he'd likely win about 80% of the white Democratic vote. Richard Burr's challenger, whoever it ends up being, will be able to sustain a fairly signficant decline in the black percentage of the electorate if he/she can get their share of the white Democratic vote from the 70s into the 80s. At this point Cooper and Shuler's prospects for doing that are both pretty positive.