Thursday, March 22, 2007

Editorial Writer's Roundtable

I wanted to jump in on the blog earlier, but I'm in London, England this week on business. So now that I've found some spare time here goes...

Last Sunday I participated in a panel discussion at the North Carolina Editorial Writer’s Roundtable sponsored by the Program on Public Life at UNC-Chapel Hill. I joined some fellow North Carolina pollsters and polling experts to discuss the latest trends in public opinion in North Carolina. Others participating were Hunter Bacot, Director of the Elon University Poll; Chris Hayes of the Civitas Institute; and Andrew J. Perrin, Assistant Professor of Sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as, editorial writers from newspapers across North Carolina.

The discussion centered on North Carolina’s changing demographics and how they impacted the partisan and ideological makeup of the state. The conventional wisdom is that a lot of people are moving into North Carolina particularly from the Northeast. They are mostly Republicans, but not nearly as conservative as the native Republicans. Not too surprising.

The core of social conservatives is much smaller than the 30-40% of North Carolinians who say they are conservative, as opposed to liberal or moderate. This plays out on individual issues. For example, we’ve done polling showing that comprehensive sex education in public schools is overwhelmingly favored, by 70% or more of likely voters. A majority of Republicans favor sex ed.

How this plays out in the Republican primaries for President will be fascinating. On the Republican side none of the major candidates has a strong social conservative background. In our latest tracking poll (PDF) Rudy Giuliani is leading the pack, but he has been pro-choice and pro-gay rights. Among Republicans who say that moral and family values is the most important issue (21%) Newt Gingrich is winning. This is the same guy who just admitted to marital infidelity while he was trying to impeach President Clinton for the Lewinsky affair.

I was also amazed by how much I agreed with Chris Hayes of the Civitas Institute, despite our ideological variety. They are seeing a lot of the same trends we are when it comes to the 2008 primaries. I guess in polling you deal with numbers and numbers don’t lie—most of the time.

Here is some more discussion of the Editorial Writer's Roundtable:

Letters to the Editor
Hackney at the Roundtable

The Peanut Question

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