Perhaps nothing signifies how much North Carolina is changing and its population growing from an influx of Northern transplants than this fact: the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are two of the state's three most popular baseball teams. While they are way behind the Atlanta Braves, baseball's most bitter rivals have far bigger fan bases in the state than do any other teams, including the Nationals and Orioles.
The Braves are far-and-away North Carolinians’ favorite baseball team, with 36% choosing them over seven other named Major League Baseball clubs. The Braves appeared for a long time on the TBS network in the state. Atlanta is also closer to some parts of North Carolina than Washington, D.C., or Baltimore.
But despite parts of the state residing in both the Nationals’ and Orioles’ media markets, only 4% cheer primarily for the O’s and 1% for the Nats. The same 1% like the Tampa Bay Rays, whose AAA farm club is the Durham Bulls, but they are no more popular in the Triangle than elsewhere in the state. The Orioles' biggest cluster of fans is in the Northeastern corner of the state, closest to the team; there, 12% say they follow the Birds.
Taking a distant second behind the Braves are the Yanks, with 15%, followed by 10% who root for the Sox. The Yankees are most popular in the Southeastern part of the state, where they trail the Braves only 28-20, followed by the Triangle, where they are behind, 32-19. The Red Sox are most popular in the Charlotte metro area, but so are the Braves, who are ahead 44-16 in popularity. There, the Yanks are least popular, still in third place but only claiming 7% of baseball fans. In addition to the immigration patterns mainly toward the Raleigh and Charlotte areas, these two teams’ recent World Series championships and their prevalence on national sports networks' broadcasts have created larger nationwide bandwagons.
The Chicago Cubs, who have long appeared on WGN stations in the state, and the Cincinnati Reds, whose media market includes some western parts of the state, each claim 3% of fans. 27% root for someone else.
In political news, former U.S. Attorney George Holding was probably wise to have put his hat in the ring to face Brad Miller in the soon-to-be GOP-friendly 13th congressional district rather than take on relatively popular three-term Attorney General Roy Cooper. Holding's decision was made after this poll was in the field. If he changes his mind, he would start out behind Cooper, 40-29, with 31% undecided.
Part of Cooper’s advantage is that Holding is almost unknown, despite leading high-profile prosecutions of former Governor Mike Easley and former Senator John Edwards. Only 22% can express an opinion of Holding, with 5% favorable and 17% unfavorable. Cooper, meanwhile, is a known quantity to almost twice that many voters, and they fall slightly (23-20) in his favor.
But Cooper's crime-fighting record also gives him 12% of the Republican vote, with Holding taking only 7% of Democrats, weak for a Republican in this state. Cooper also has a nominal lead with independents, 32-30. Independents are more undecided than voters of either party, but they are only a fifth of voters. The crossover support/party unity is the deciding factor, and whoever takes on Cooper will have to cut into his strength with moderate to conservative Democrats. Cooper has a whopping 55-14 lead with moderates of all partisan stripes, and they're the 30% plurality of voters. He also gets 20% of the quarter who say they're somewhat conservative and even 11% of the fifth who claim to be far right.
55% are glad the state has the lottery, and 29% wish there was not one. Republicans are least glad, 47-38, and Democrats most, 64-22.
Neither of the state's senators is particularly popular right now, and surprisingly, despite being in her first term, Democrat Kay Hagan is slightly better-known and better-liked than the recently and strongly re-elected sophomore Republican Richard Burr. 38% approve of Hagan's performance, with 41% disapproving. The margin for Burr is 35-39.
Full results here.