Thursday, August 13, 2009

Perdue's situation not dire, but she has work to do

Some folks have been taking Bev Perdue's approval numbers and declaring she's finished for reelection, even though she doesn't have to stand before the voters again for 39 months.

I have no doubt she would lose if she had an election today, but a lot of things can change in that period of time.

Beyond that, her numbers may not be quite as bad as they look on the surface. For the first time this week we had voters not just give her a simple approve or disapprove but also rate her on a scale of 1 to 9. 20% gave her something between 7 and 9, the highest scores. We would consider those folks who would definitely vote to reelect her. 42% gave her something between 1 and 3. We would consider those folks who definitely would not vote to reelect her. And that's really nothing unusual- every candidate tends to start out with 40% or so of the electorate that will never vote for them simply because of their party- even uber popular Roy Cooper, running against a Republican nobody, barely cracked 60% last year. Barack Obama also had 40% of voters give him something between a 1 and a 3 this poll.

That leaves 38% of the electorate rating Perdue somewhere between a 4 and a 6, feeling relatively ambivalent toward her. Those voters are not lost forever because of a stumbling first seven months in office- they're the kind of folks who are much more likely not to give much of a thought to whether they're going to vote to reelect the Governor until October of 2012 and if they like the way things are going then they'll give her their support and if they don't, well then, she'll lose.

A very significant portion of North Carolina's voters just don't feel that strongly about Perdue one way or the other. That means she's not 'finished' just seven months into her term, but it also means she has a lot of work to do to gain popularity with all those folks. Whether she can win over all these voters with mixed feelings- or no feelings at all- will determine her ultimate fate.

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