Thursday, February 7, 2008

Republican Tracking Poll: Governor

Pat McCrory 25
Fred Smith 21
Bill Graham 11
Bob Orr 7
Elbie Powers 2

This race was incredibly bunched up for most of last year but it looks like McCrory's entry is giving some clarity to it and moving it toward a two man race between him and Fred Smith. It could be a defining moment for the Republican party in North Carolina: do all their candidates need to have perfect conservative records, or are they willing to nominate a moderate who has the best shot at winning in the fall?

Pat McCrory is the best known candidate in the field, and he also appears to be the most viable contender for Republicans to end 16 years of Democrats living in the Governor's Mansion. But he's not sufficiently conservative for some GOP primary voters. For most of last year those folks were splitting their support between Smith, Graham, and Orr. But Smith has run the most visible campaign and seems likely to be the best funded of that trio. So folks who are suspicious of McCrory ideologically appear to be starting to unify around Smith.

PPP's last poll was the week before McCrory entered the race and he has started to broaden his support geographically since then. He's still by far at his strongest in the Charlotte tv market, but he is now polling in double digits in every part of the state, whereas he was around 4-5% pretty much everywhere except his home base previously. His progress has been particularly strong in the Triad, where he is at 17%, likely aided by all the attention given to the announcement of his campaign in Guilford County.

Smith still leads McCrory in four out of six parts of the state, but McCrory's 64-8 lead in the greater Charlotte area is making the difference.

Full results here

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