Friday, August 6, 2010

The State of North Carolina Politics

There are a couple counteracting forces within the North Carolina electorate right now that are keeping the state competitive for this fall...while also allowing Republicans a small lead in the US Senate race and on the generic Congressional and Legislative ballots.

The thing helping Democrats is that the enthusiasm gap for voting this fall is smaller here than it is nationally, mostly because North Carolina Republicans are not as excited about turning out this year as national ones are. On our national survey in July we found that 66% of Republicans and 51% of Democrats were 'very excited' about voting this year. On our North Carolina survey last week we found the same 51% of Democrats 'very excited,' but only 56% of Republicans.

It makes some sense that Republican voters in North Carolina are less excited. Much of the energy across the country is being driven by the desire to drive the Democrats out of office. But the marquee race in North Carolina, because it has a Republican incumbent, doesn't provide that opportunity. And with an approval rating under 60% even within his own party Richard Burr isn't exactly getting GOP voters excited about him.

If there isn't that much of an enthusiasm gap here though, then why are Republicans favored to win this fall in this Democratic leaning state? It's because independents continue to be leaning strongly toward the GOP. Richard Burr has a 44-25 lead with them in the Senate race, quite a contrast from the 48-44 victory Kay Hagan posted with independents in 2008. Republicans lead the generic Legislative ballot 44-41, thanks to a 42-18 advantage with independents and the generic Congressional ballot 44-42 with a 47-23 edge with independents.

Democrats need to do better with those unaffiliated voters who split pretty evenly in 2008. And Richard Burr needs to inspire more passion from the Republican base, which would help right on down the ticket. Those may be the greatest challenges each party faces in these last three months.


Chuck T said...

Marshall, I feel, is the Democrats best chance to defeat a GOP Senator. Burr has low approval numbers and lacks enthusiasm. Already your polling has shown that she is doing better vs. him than Hagen did vs. Dole in '08. Other Democratic opportunities in this election season include: OH (very tight race between Fisher and Portman) and MO (Blunt vs. Carnahan. Also, if Crist wins in FL and caucuses with Dems that would be considered a pick-up. It all depends on whether the dems in the coming three months get more motivated to get out to vote, otherwise the GOP will win the close ones.

Christian Liberty said...

Those who understand how Obama and the Democrats have damaged the economy will be the ones who become more motivated to vote in the coming months.

Christian Liberty said...

Burr seen as more mainstream by NC electorate

"45% place Burr’s views in the mainstream, while 30% regard his views as extreme. Thirty-nine percent (39%) think Marshall is in the mainstream, but nearly as many (34%) say her views are extreme."

And even with fewer Republicans "very excited" about voting and approving of Burr in the PPP poll, Republicans (and independents) are quite ready to prefer Burr over Marshall.

"Burr gets 85% of the GOP vote in the state, while Marshall picks up 71% support among Democrats. Voters not affiliated with either party prefer the Republican by 16 points."

Burr is also seen as slightly more favorable than Marshall. "Marshall, North Carolina’s longtime secretary of state, is viewed Very Favorably by 17% and Very Unfavorably by 18%.
For Burr, who was first elected to the Senate in 2004 with 52% of the vote, Very Favorables are 17% and Very Unfavorables 16%."

NC LV are also disapproving of Obama and pessimistic towards the economy and how it will affect them personally.

"just 41% of North Carolina voters approve of the job President Obama is doing, while 57% disapprove."

"while 15% say those finances are getting better, over half (52%) say they are getting worse."

Anonymous said...

Rasmussen has Richard Burr up by 9%, SurveyUSA also has Burr by 9%, while 538's has it at 8.5%. 538 is also projecting the odds of Burr retaining his Senate seat at 82%.
Rasmussen also reported that, amongst North Carolinian voters, Richard Burr's VERY favorable/unfavorable numbers were 17/16, and is realizing 85% support from Republican voters in the state. On the other hand, Elaine Marshall's VERY... numbers were at 17/18, while gaining support from 71% of the state's Democratic voters. Independents also favored Burr by 16%. Rasmussen also has Obama's approvals at 41/57, with Democratic Govenor Bev Perdue at 46/52.
How much more evidence, I ask, does one need to finally conclude that Burr has an almost certain lock on his Senate seat? And there is absolutely nothing that the Democrats can do, between now and November, that will change that - NOTHING!
Lets face it Tom, the Democratic party's candidates (across the board) are, for the most part, TOAST come this next November. It is, at this point, inevitable.

Dustin Ingalls said...

We know NC better than anyone.

We have Bev Perdue at 32/48, which is just slightly worse than last month but considerably better than just a few months ago, when she was in the high 20s, so certainly there is no Democratic bias in our polling.

Rasmussen and, to my knowledge, everyone else, isn't explicitly polling Beitler by name. We have the last two months. Because of that, we have Burr at only 73% with Republicans and Marshall at 65% with Dems. We have always had Burr with more of his base locked up than Marshall has of hers, and that tends to be true of all incumbents, regardless of party.

"How much more evidence, I ask, does one need to finally conclude that Burr has an almost certain lock on his Senate seat?"

We'll believe that when our polls show it. Even when we had Burr up by larger margins in the last two months (5 and 7 points), it still was by no means a lock.

As for your other conclusions, you're a riot.

Christian Liberty said...

"As of June 27, 2010, SurveyUSA released a poll for the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina. The poll shows Republican incumbent Richard Burr at 50%, Democratic nominee Elaine Marshall at 40%, and Libertarian nominee Dr. Beitler at 6%, with 5% undecided."

Even though Rasmussen did not name Mike Beitler, the social mood of the electorate shows which way voters could lean. Whether or not a third candidate is mentioned by name doesn't change the finding that Burr is seen as more mainstream than Marshall and (slightly) more favorable. And whether or not a third candidate is named doesn't change how voters feel about the president and the economy.

Anonymous said...

"As for your other conclusions, you're a riot"

Well ole buddy, I'm sure glad that you got such a kick out of my "other" conclusions, as I'm here to please. Only thing is, I'm a little confused about the "other" conclusion that you were referring to. I think that I only made but one - but who's counting anyway? Another thing that I'm also a little confused about is the little mix up between you and Tom's comments, regarding Richard Burr's favorables with Republican voters. Let me quote. Tom stated in his post that "... with an approval rating under 60% even within his own party Richard Burr isn't exactly getting voters excited with him". On the other hand, you then stated that "... we have Burr at only 73% with Republicans...". HUH? But then again too, whats a meager 13+% differential between friends anyway? But don't worry about it. Rasmussen was a little mixed up too. He had it at 85% for Burr amongst his party supporters. So what the heck.

Anyway, to my original comment; of which I concluded that "...Burr has an almost certain lock on his senate seat". Why I had happened to come to that rather "riot"(est) conclusion had much more to do with other factors, aside from your/PPP's numbers, or those of 538, Gallup, Rasmussen, RCP or any other pollster, for that matter. What did, in fact, most influence my "conclusion" though were other factors; of which, in total, provided me with a clearer picture and added perspective on the somewhat unusual dynamics of this year's elections. But, rather than me spewing out a whole litany of calculations, observations and analyses, made by others in your particular field of endeavor, I will instead defer you to just a few of them. Read them (in complete), then draw your own "conclusions":

Gallup, dated 8/2/10:
"GOP Resumes Favorable
Standing On Generic Ballot"
Real Clear Politics,
dated 8/5/10:
"Enthusiasm Gap On Display In
Tuesday's Primaries"
Pew Research, dated 8/1/10:
"Voting Intentions Even, Turnout
Indicators Favor GOP"
and finally
Five Thirty Eight, dated 4/7/10:
"Democrats Are Enthusiastic;
Republicans Are More So"

There are, Dustin, many other articles out there with similar themes, but the above selection should adequately provide you with a pretty good amount of insight as to their relevant importance; particularly so in regards to this year's elections. Personally, I suspect, come November 3rd, that an awful lot of pollsters are going to be left with their pants down and a whole lot embarrassed. Just watch and see.

By the way, I'm not, in any way, expecting for you to publish this commentary, as it is a bit lengthy and perhaps a little too involved for your reader's consumption. If, in fact, you do, I would appreciate your editing to keep it short and "sweet". Thanks

Anonymous said...

Important News Flash: Pollsters can have different numbers.
Just because the pollster with the most recent numbers different from Rasmussen (R), that doesn't mean PPP is wrong. It means they are ahead of the curve. If Burr is such a lock, then why does he continually host fundraiser upon fundraiser with his Oil Company CEOs? And if it is such a lock, why do you folks keep complaining about the closeness in PPP polls? If it was such a lock, I'm sure you guys would just ignore them. Of course, last August it was a lock for Elizabeth Dole to beat little known Kay Hagan in '08, right?

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Tom stated in his post that "... with an approval rating under 60% even within his own party Richard Burr isn't exactly getting voters excited with him". On the other hand, you then stated that "... we have Burr at only 73% with Republicans...". HUH?"

Yeah, Tom's talking about Burr's approval rating. I'm talking about Burr's share of the GOP vote, which is why the next thing I said was that Burr has a little more of his base locked up than Marshall has of hers.

As far as enthusiasm, our latest NC poll has voter enthusiasm pretty much equal across the partisan spectrum for the first time. Republicans just have a hair's advantage in the "very excited" category, when they had a much larger one in previous months. Whether that's just a blip or whether it stays that way remains to be seen, but it can partially explain Marshall drawing from 7 to 5 to only 2 down in the past three months. With a Republican incumbent, Democrats are more enthusiastic in NC and Republicans less so than in other states where there's a Democratic incumbent on the ballot. Neither Perdue nor Hagan gets the bad luck of running this year. Burr is running into luck by running in a Republican-favored year, but his incumbency and really weak approval rating are dragging him down. Voters are more in a throw-the-bums-out mood, as our July NC poll showed, than a throw-the-Dems-out mood.

Anonymous said...

Christian Liberty, Rasmussen has an extremely tight voter screen, which means he is going to get mainly Republicans.

Anonymous said...

There is tones of Republican enthusiasm in the state we see what Perdue has done

We want to throw out Shuler, McIntrye, Kissell, and Etheridge and regain control state legislature and we don't want a vote for Obama in Marshall

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you're right Dustin, I did indeed overlook the differing language that you and Tom employed in your respective analysis of approval numbers for Burr (general vs party line). For that, I apologize.

I nonetheless remain steadfast in my characterization of the existing "enthusiasm gap" and how it's going to play out in this November's elections. I find it rather difficult to understand why anyone would, for the most part, disregard just how impactual to the upcoming elections, that those (enthusiasm) factors will actually be. I'm certainly not an expert in defining the more absolute affect(s) of voter enthusiasm. To the contrary. But, at the same time, it would seem (to me) to be rather short sighted for any pollster to simply ignore it, and instead rely solely upon polling numbers alone. I would think it should be somehow an integral part of the "weighting" process; as I think that it will be as significant a factor - if not more so, than any other "weighted" factor, associated with this year's elections. But, then again too, you guys are the "experts" in this arena - and I am but only a novive. I will, in the future, remind myself of that. Keep up the good work and I will most assuredly be checking back in from time to time. In the meantime, ya'll have a good day.

Dustin Ingalls said...

As is oft said, an enthusiastic vote counts the same as a nonenthusiastic one. Enthusiasm already plays itself out in the response rate to our polls, particularly the longer ones. Most people who don't end up voting aren't going to stick on the phone to push buttons in response to a recorded message.

NRH said...

PA-08 really showed everyone how much it mattered that the Republican votes were so much more passionate than the numerically-superior Democratic votes.

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't Jensen released this months approval numbers for Bev Perdue? Civitas just released theres? Is it because they are lower than the months before? What is PPP's agenda?

Tom Jensen said...

Uh the Perdue numbers are on our website. Don't be so conspiratorial.

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