Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Triad trending Democratic

Note: As we head toward 2008, PPP is writing a series of columns for newspapers across the state outlining what our polls have shown in their region in 2007. Today's focuses on the Triad:

The Triad is shaping up to be one of the most Democratic regions in the state for the 2008 election, according to recent surveys conducted by Raleigh’s Public Policy Polling. In the races for both President and Governor, Democratic candidates appear primed to win almost any general election matchup.

Public Policy Polling has conducted monthly polls in 2007 about the various statewide races we will have in North Carolina next year. One of the ways we analyze our results is by region, so as we enter 2008 it seems worth taking a look at the attitudes of voters in the Triad about next year’s candidates.

In the Democratic presidential race, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton have gone back and forth in the top spot among respondents in the Triad. Clinton led in the region in September and November while Edwards had the advantage in October and December.

On the Republican side Fred Thompson had a large lead after announcing his candidacy in September but saw it dwindle each month until Mike Huckabee took the lead over him this month 38-18. The poll coincided with Huckabee’s visit to Greensboro for a fundraiser.

It appears that regardless of who the Democratic and Republican nominees are the Dems will have a strong advantage in the region in the general election though. John Edwards particularly appears to be a strong candidate. He earns the support of over half the folks in the Triad against all three Republican front runners, even with the undecideds factored in. Clinton and Obama also lead potential races against Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, and Mitt Romney but the races would be much closer if either of them was the nominee.

The Triad has been one of the closest areas in the state when it comes to the contest to decide who the Democratic nominee for Governor next year will be. Bev Perdue has a lead on Richard Moore but it has just been 38-35 and 34-30 each of the last two months within the area. This is definitely a region that is up for grabs and that each candidate will have to work hard to earn support in over the next four months.

On the Republican side, senator Fred Smith has come on strong in the last few months. As recently as September he trailed 23-8 when compared with Bill Graham, a Salisbury trial lawyer. But in the last two polls he’s taken leads of 29-16 and 31-15 throughout the Triad. Smith’s support has gone up significantly statewide as well on the heels of a BBQ tour that has included stops in Rockingham, Alamance, Surry, and Davie counties among other Triad locales.

When it comes to the general election though, the Democrats look like the favorite in pretty much any possible matchup. Bev Perdue would lead all four possible Republican nominees (Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory and former supreme court judge Bob Orr in addition to Smith and Graham.) Richard Moore leads Smith and Orr, is tied with Graham, and has just a small deficit against McCrory in the Triad.

The Triad is also notably the only region in the state where both Democratic Senate candidates, Kay Hagan and Jim Neal, lead Elizabeth Dole in our most recent polling. Hagan, a state senator from Greensboro, leads her home region 51-46 while Neal leads it 49-43. If the Democrats are going to reclaim that seat it will take high voter turnout from this high area of support.

In addition to the races for President and Governor, we’ve also been polling for Lieutenant Governor and Treasurer. Each of those contests has a candidate from Forsyth County in it. Dan Besse, a Winston-Salem Councilman, is seeking the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor. Dale Folwell, a legislator, is hoping to be the Republican candidate for Treasurer.

Folwell in particular is getting a lot of support on the home front. Although he trails his opponent, Bill Daughtridge, by a small margin statewide he has led in the Triad 22-10 and 18-12 in the last two polls.

Besse has been in fourth place statewide for most of the polls in his race so far and has also gotten his greatest support closest to home. He has led the Triad in two of the last four polls and finished second behind front runner Walter Dalton this month.

Democrats in North Carolina are hoping to have their candidate for the presidency carry the state for the first time since 1976 next year, and it looks like the Triad would be an influential region in helping them do that.

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