Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NC looks like it would be competitive again

Barack Obama isn't all that popular in North Carolina...but neither are most of the leading Republican Presidential contenders for 2012. Because of that if the election was held today Obama would be right in contention to win the state again when he comes up for reelection.

Obama's approval rating in the state is 45%, with 51% of voters disapproving. That makes him a lot more popular than Sarah Palin (36/55 favorability spread), a little more popular than Newt Gingrich (34/43), and about the same as Mitt Romney (33/38). The only one of the Republicans who gets significantly better reviews from North Carolina voters than Obama is Mike Huckabee, who 44% in the state have a positive opinion of to just 31% with a negative one.

Huckabee is also the only one of the Republicans who Obama trails in a hypothetical reelection contest. The former Arkansas Governor edges him 48-44. Huckabee does the best job both of unifying Republican voters (87% support from them) and earning crossover support from Democratic voters (winning over 21% of them.)

Beyond Huckabee though Obama does about the same or even better than he did against John McCain against the rest of the Republican contenders. He holds Mitt Romney to a 44-44 draw, has the slightest of edges over Newt Gingrich at 46-45, and leads Sarah Palin by a 48-43 spread.

Obama trails by 4-13 points with independents in all four of the match ups but that's really not bad given that most Democrats in competitive races across the state this year lost those folks by about a 2:1 margin. The bigger problem for Obama might be that he's polling in the low to mid 70s with Democrats against all of the Republicans except for Palin, an indication that he still has some work to do with conservative Democrats between now and 2012.

Still in the big picture these are good numbers for Obama. Some were quick to look at the 2010 results in North Carolina and say Obama would have no chance to win here again in 2012 but the reality is that a huge part of the Republican victories was Democrats staying at home and that's not likely to happen again the next time around. If Republicans can't get a better candidate than Palin, Romney, or Gingrich and the Obama wave voters from 2008 get reenergized he has at least a 50/50 chance of starting a Democratic winning streak at the Presidential level in North Carolina.

Full results here


NRH said...

This reinforces the regional appeal of the candidates.

Huckabee runs well in the South, where his primary characteristic (his far-right social stances) is popular. That same characteristic, however, limits his ability to put any blue states into contention, where his social stances are not widely popular and where his economic ideas frighten the financial industry. North Carolina is developing a split between its productive Research Triangle and the rural rest of the state, and Huckabee does well in the rural area, but can't penetrate the Research Triangle for a big lead.

Palin can count on being the Tea Party candidate if she wants the role, which is not a positive in a high-turnout scenario like a presidential year but could have some strength anywhere. Romney could put some blue states potentially on the table, but between RomneyCare, his compromises as governor of Massachusetts, and being a Mormon, he turns off large segments of the far-right Republican base in the South.

Huckabee still looks like the strongest Republican candidate, particularly if he were to manage to distance himself from his previously-claimed economic theories. At the very least, Huckabee could be expected to win the states a Republican should win (the McCain states plus Indiana, and keeping Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio on the table).

wt said...

If Obama is keeping NC close in 2012, it's going to be a short election night. Because the state to its north, Virginia, has similar demographics, is slightly bluer than NC, and is critical to the GOP electoral map.

At least this gives us another arrow in our quiver to beg GOP primary voters not to vote for Palin.

Anonymous said...

I didn't look at the details of the poll, but did you revert back to a model closer to the 2008 turnout? I am trying to figure out how Obama went from really unpopular with NC voters before the 2010 election to having the advantage in the state going into the 2012 election.

Dustin Ingalls said...

It's just registered voters, but it turned out to be an electorate that's between '08 and '10, closer to '08.

ARealSenator said...

Obama will have to turn out the college age voters that are prevalent in NC in droves to win there again in 2012. I remember being asked to register to vote about 10 times in the final week of registration by people around campus. Unfortunately, I didn't have a permanent address there so I had to waste my vote in KY. Can we please get rid of the electoral college? Speaking of which, have you all done any polling on the electoral college?

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