Saturday, February 9, 2008

Perdue will benefit from close Democratic race

Update: Rob Christensen wrote his weekly column about this and properly cited us in using our numbers- his column is not what I'm referring to below.

I've been meaning to blog about this for a few days but a reporter from a North Carolina newspaper beat me to the punch. I'm not going to name the reporter or the paper because our polls were cited multiple times in the story without being attributed to PPP and I think it is disrespectful for media types to use our polls to advance their stories without naming our company. But onward...

With it looking increasingly likely that North Carolina will play a role in who wins the Democratic nomination for President, it seems a given that our primary will see increased attention and turnout. That could affect the Governor's race, and most likely the beneficiary would be Bev Perdue. Here's why:

-Several polls, most recently the one Rasmussen did for WRAL last week, have shown that Perdue is better known to the state's voters than Moore. If a bunch of extra people turn out primarily because of the Presidential race who have not been following the rest of the stuff on the ballot they're most likely to vote for the candidate they know, and more likely than not Perdue will have the edge there.

-The group most likely to have disproportionately high voter turnout if the Presidential race matters is African American voters. Barack Obama has been bringing out record black turnouts in several of our neighboring states. Bev Perdue has consistently done better with African Americans than Richard Moore. Her leads on him in the last three polls have been 56-19, 46-18, and 45-21. That's a pretty strong trend.

-If women turn out to vote for Hillary, once again Perdue (and also Kay Hagan) will benefit. Perdue has led 46-29, 40-23, and 42-28 among women in our last three polls. It's not as strong as the advantage she has with black voters but it is still likely to do her some good at the polls.

One point the reporter made in his story was somewhat flawed. He suggested there might be an increase in turnout from unaffiliated voters and said that could benefit Richard Moore. It's true that Moore led Perdue 40-37 with that group in this month's poll. But Perdue led that group 37-20 in the poll last month.

With crosstabs, trends across months are much more meaningful than what came out of the most recent poll. There were 66 unaffiliated voters in the sample for this month's poll. That's a margin of error of +/- 12% on that particular crosstab. Moore may be the more popular candidate with independent voters, but we don't have any meaningful data yet to show that. It doesn't compare with the consistent double digit leads Perdue has shown among female and black voters.

If I was on the Moore campaign I would be hoping for one of the Presidential candidates to start running away with it sooner than later. Increased voter turnout is probably going to be a bonus for Perdue.

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