North Carolina isn't exactly a bastion of liberalism but even there a majority of voters think it's off base for candidates to exploit the proposed 'Ground Zero mosque' as a campaign issue. 51% label doing so as 'inappropriate' to just 37% who consider it to be an acceptable tactic.
This is particularly pertinent in the Triangle where Renee Ellmers, challenging long time Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge, has run television ads about the mosque. Voters in that part of the state are particularly strong in their views that it's inappropriate with 56% expressing that sentiment.
Invoking the mosque is seen as acceptable by the Republican base, with 60% of GOP voters saying they think it's appropriate to only 29% who object. But for Ellmers to win she's going to have to take an overwhelming share of independents and also capture a healthy level of Democratic support. With those key groups exploiting the mosque is seen as particularly inappropriate- 68% of Democrats and 50% of independents share that feeling.
The mosque ad may end up hurting the GOP's long shot chances of knocking off Bob Etheridge but the overall picture for Republicans in the state when it comes to the House looks somewhat encouraging. North Carolina voters prefer a generic Republican for Congress over a Democrat 51-42. That's because of an overwhelming advantage for the GOP with independents, 53-27, and because 17% of Democrats are leaning toward voting Republican while only 2% are planning to cross party lines in the other direction.
The reality though is that North Carolina's potentially vulnerable members of Congress- Etheridge, Mike McIntyre, Larry Kissell, and Health Shuler- have always run well ahead of overall Democratic performance in their districts. So the GOP might be ahead of a generic Democrat in those places but the actual Democrats holding the seats in those districts are going to be harder to defeat.
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