There is a perception out there that Mike McIntyre or Heath Shuler could have trouble in the primary running for the Senate because they're too conservative or that Richard Moore left a lot of unhealed wounds in the wake of his contest with Bev Perdue last year. Do the numbers back that up?
The simple answer is no. The percentage of Democrats who have an unfavorable opinion of their prospective Senate candidates ranges from 18% for Dan Blue to just 6% for McIntyre.
Shuler and McIntyre are actually more popular with liberal Democrats than moderate or conservative ones. 50% of liberal Democrats across North Carolina have a favorable opinion of Shuler compared to 39% among moderates and 22% among conservatives. For McIntyre the numbers are 45, 35, and 31% across the ideological spectrum.
Since liberal Democrats are not inherently suspicious of Shuler or McIntyre it means that for their ideology to become an issue in the primary an opposing candidate or third party group would have to make a large investment in air time, mail, etc. getting that message across and that doesn't seem particularly likely.
The 12% of Democrats holding an unfavorable opinion of Moore is average among the candidates we tested so it doesn't seem he did a lot of long term damage to perceptions of him among the party's rank and file with some of his campaign tactics in the closing days of the Gubernatorial primary last year.
It's interesting that the highest level of negativity among Democrats toward one of their own is directed at Dan Blue. I wondered if it might be a racial thing but among conservative white Democrats Shuler actually gets the largest percentage of respondents who have an unfavorable opinion of him, so it may be more residual reaction to Blue's efforts in the late 90s to become Speaker with the support of most of the Republican caucus.
The bottom line on these potential candidates, at least when it comes to how voters within their own parties view them, is that none of them are overwhelmingly popular or unpopular. That gives whoever ends up running the opportunity, as long as they have the money, to craft the image they want with the electorate because there aren't a ton of preconceived notions about any of them.