Friday, April 17, 2009

Race and Ideology in North Carolina

Here's one to challenge your conventional wisdom: more African Americans in North Carolina describe themselves as conservatives than liberals.

On each of our last three North Carolina polls about 50% of black voters in the state have identified as moderates with the rest relatively split between calling themselves liberals and conservatives but with the advantage to conservative each time.

Averaging the numbers 22% of African Americans in North Carolina are liberals, 50% are moderates, and 28% are conservatives.

That has meaningful implications for North Carolina politics at several levels, but perhaps most relevantly to how candidates try to reach out to the black community in Democratic primaries. Painting yourself as the furthest left candidate is not necessarily the winning strategy.

Looking at our issue polling, African Americans do tend to take the 'liberal' stance on most things. But they tend much more toward the conservative side on things like gay marriage and that appears to have a significant impact on how they portray themselves overall.

There's been a lot of talk and study over the years about conservative white Democrats in North Carolina but looking just within the numbers for voters who identify themselves as Democrats in the state whites are more likely to describe themselves as liberals and less likely to describe themselves as conservatives than African Americans. Among white Democrats 34% say they're liberal, 47% moderate, and 19% conservative. Among black Democrats 24% are liberal, 50% moderate, and 26% conservative.

Probably not what you would expect.

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