Monday, October 12, 2009

In Depth: White Democrats in Eastern North Carolina

Want proof that North Carolina's changing? A black President from Chicago is more popular than a white Governor from New Bern with white Democrats in eastern North Carolina.

Those are the Jessecrats who for years split their tickets, voting Democratic at the state level but Republican for President and often for the Senate, particularly when Jesse Helms was on the ballot.

Now 45% of them approve of Barack Obama's job performance, with 49% disapproving, while just 35% of them approve of Bev Perdue's job performance, with 43% disapproving.

Of course the numbers for both the President and the Governor are pretty mediocre with that group of their party's voters, and that bodes pretty poorly for 2010.

A full third of them say they plan to vote Republican for the legislature next year, and in a region that saw many Democrats squeak to reelection last fall that has the potential to turn some seats over. And only 41% of them are committed to voting for a Democrat against Richard Burr next year, with 35% undecided, and 24% saying they'll vote for the Republican.

Close North Carolina elections have often swung on the votes of these white Democrats in the eastern part of the state who aren't always loyal to their party. Their power was diminished last year by the incredible spikes in turnout in the urban parts of the state, but if 2010 sees a reversion to more typical NC voting patterns these folks may once again play a pivotal role in determining control of the legislature and Burr's seat. Right now it's somewhere Democrats are going to have to step it up.

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