Monday, February 2, 2009

Wrapping up Civitas

There were a few things that came out both from the Civitas poll results and the luncheon discussion with Bev Perdue consultant Mac McCorkle and Pat McCrory campaign manager Jack Hawke that helped to explain again why Perdue is in the Governor's mansion:

-One Civitas question asked what Perdue's top priority should be now that she's in office. Only 2-3% of respondents said anything about transportation or road building and less than 1% mentioned government corruption. It's kind of remarkable what a large percentage of campaign discourse focused on areas that just weren't that high of a concern to the voters. When Perdue started talking coherently about the economy, she won.

-But even if the Raleigh culture was a big deal for the voters, it still wasn't a good issue for Pat McCrory to be hammering on as a Republican. Their poll showed 56% of voters in the state thought Democrats were the better party for bringing change to state government with only 18% choosing the Republicans. I've been arguing since July that this was a foolish issue for the GOP to beat the drum on because voters don't pay much attention to what's happening in Raleigh and when they think corruption, they think Washington Republicans. McCorkle said the Perdue campaign's polling showed the change/corruption issue was not a detriment to her campaign and was thus surprised that McCrory spent so much time on it. He asked Hawke what his polling numbers showed to the contrary, but Hawke didn't say anything.

It often seemed to me like the McCrory campaign was being run on intuition rather than data, and this exchange furthered that perception on my part. McCrory apologists might say something about how virtuous it is if polling numbers weren't dictating strategy, but I'd rather be Governor than virtuous.

-There was also a fair amount of discussion of the 'Yankee trash' issue, which I have argued played a pivotal role in Perdue's small October turnaround. Hawke took responsibility for opening McCrory up to attack on that issue, admitting it was his suggestion that McCrory list the 2007 Solid Waste Management Act as a bill he would have vetoed had he been Governor on a questionnaire he filled out over the summer. The Republicans at the luncheon seemed infuriated that Perdue's campaign used that issue to such effect, ironic given their party's history of successfully turning little things into big things to win elections. What goes around comes around.

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