Thursday, July 31, 2008

IVR Polling

Carl Bialik of the Wall Street Journal takes an unusually even handed look (for someone in the national media) at IVR polling.

I sure would like to meet the dog(s) Ann Selzer knows that are capable of going through and answering a whole telephone poll- that's worthy of front page coverage in and of itself!

One nice thing about the story was that a recording of a sample PPP poll was posted on the WSJ website. If you've ever been curious about the voice of our polls, listen here.

Washington seen as center of corruption

Which of these groups do you think is the most corrupt?

Washington Republicans 43
Washington Democrats 35
Raleigh Democrats 15
Raleigh Republicans 7

When North Carolina voters think about corruption, only 22% of them associate it most with Raleigh. That is a strong indicator of how difficult it will be for Pat McCrory and Republican legislative candidates to win this fall by railing against the culture in Raleigh. Civitas polls in the last two months have shown that many voters don't even know which party is in charge in Raleigh, and that they trust Democrats more than Republicans to bring change to state government.

In 2006 Democrats in North Carolina made gains at the state level despite the specter of Jim Black's issues because voters were much more aware of Republican transgressions at the federal level. It appears that the GOP here will have difficulty dealing with that reality once again. Average North Carolinians just are not that in tune with some of the things that have gone down in Raleigh over the last few years.

If Republicans really want to win in the state this fall they probably need to refocus their message on issues that really impact voters' daily lives.

Full results here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Council of State Numbers


Beth Wood (D) 46
Les(lie) Merritt (R) 34

Wood has shown a strong lead over Merritt three polls in a row now so I don't think this is a fluke. I find this so curious. Steve Troxler and Cherie Berry are doing fine in the polls so it's not a universal problem with Republicans. Why is an incumbent in a low profile race doing so poorly? If anyone can give me a non 'Democratic talking points' answer I'd really like to hear it. One problem for Merritt is that he's getting only 62% of the Republican vote- is there some reason people in his own party don't care for him?

Lieutenant Governor:

Walter Dalton (D) 40
Robert Pittenger (R) 36
Phillip Rhodes (L) 6

Dalton is still holding onto a small lead. As I've said before, if he can compete money wise with Pittenger spending from his personal fortune, he should be fine.


Bill Daughtridge (R) 41
Janet Cowell (D) 40

Daughtridge has shown a small lead three months in a row, and once again unusual support for a Republican from his 252 area code seems to be making a difference. He and Cherie Berry are the only Republicans leading there.

Attorney General:

Roy Cooper (D) 50
Bob Crumley (R) 35

Secretary of State:

Elaine Marshall (D) 46
Jack Sawyer (R) 36

Cooper and Marshall should be locks.

Agriculture Commissioner:

Steve Troxler (R) 44
Ronnie Ansley (D) 38

Labor Commissioner:

Cherie Berry (R) 42
Mary Fant Donnan (D) 38

Troxler and Berry start out with the lead, but will be vulnerable if there is a tidal wave of new straight ticket voting Democrats.

Insurance Commissioner:

John Odom (R) 37
Wayne Goodwin (D) 36
Mark McMains (L) 10


June Atkinson (D) 44
Richard Morgan (R) 37

Full results here.

NC Governor: Perdue vaults forward

Bev Perdue 46
Pat McCrory 37
Michael Munger 6

Since the primary one poll after another has shown Bev Perdue and Pat McCrory basically knotted, but Perdue has now opened up a solid lead.

Most of the movement appears to be among Democratic voters. Last month Perdue had just a 68-19 lead with them. That figure is now 76-12, and the 15 point increase in her lead among folks in her own party accounts for most of her gain. This may be attributable to her recent endorsement from former opponent Richard Moore.

Perdue is winning the black vote overwhelmingly while trailing McCrory by just seven points with white voters. Any Democrat who can keep the Republican lead among white voters under double digits is likely to win statewide in North Carolina.

Pat McCrory has lost some of the luster off of his 'change' message in recent weeks with revelations of large amounts of out of state money being spent on his behalf and news of a letter sent to lobbyists to help in raising money for his campaign. He'll need to turn it around quick to keep the race from getting away from him, particularly with Perdue's large overall fundraising advantage.

Full results here.

Michigan Governor 2010

Dick DeVos 44
Dennis Archer 42

Dennis Archer 41
Terri Lynn Land 38

Dick DeVos 45
John Cherry 36

Terri Lynn Land 40
John Cherry 34

For the second month in a row PPP tested four possible match ups for Governor in 2010. You can see last month's results here.

Although it is incredibly early some trends are emerging. Dennis Archer has done better than John Cherry in all four hypothetical match ups and looks to be the stronger candidate at this point. Whether that's due to greater popularity or simply greater name recognition is up for debate.

There are also signs that Dick DeVos might be in better shape with the Republican base than some of the other possible Republican contenders. DeVos earns 77% of the votes of self identified Republicans against Archer. By comparison, Land gets 65% and in last month's polling we found Mike Cox at 60% and Candice Miller at 53%.

Archer has a lot more room to move up in his match up with DeVos than the 2006 Republican nominee does. 16% of Democrats report being undecided while just 5% of Republicans do, and Archer currently receives just 59% of the African American vote, a number that seems bound to increase.

Full results here.

Michigan President/Senate

Barack Obama 46
John McCain 43

The race has tightened in Michigan since PPP's last poll, with Barack Obama losing support from Republicans and white voters.

PPP's June Michigan poll showed 19% of self identified Republican voters crossing over to support Obama, but that figure has now been reduced to 9%. Obama also now trails 50-40 among white voters after holding a two point lead with them last month.

With Michigan almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans this is one state where the race could really come down to the choices of independent voters. While only 8% of Democrats and 4% of Republicans are undecided, 20% of those who don't identify with either party are.

Who are these independent voters? Compared to the general population they are disproportionately female, 46-65, and white. They support Obama by a small (42-38) margin in this survey, but also support Democrat Carl Levin for Senate and possible 2010 gubernatorial candidate Dennis Archer for Governor at a much higher rate than the rest of the population. These could be former Hillary supporters who aren't ready to jump to John McCain but are ambivalent about Obama. Maybe Obama and the Clintons need to spend more time campaigning in Michigan together.

Overall Levin continues to hold a dominating lead over Jack Hoogendyk, 54-35.

Full results here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Movement in the Governor's Race

Kim Genardo broke our newest Gubernatorial numbers tonight on NBC-17. Watch it here.

Full Council of State results tomorrow.

Florida Senate

We are going to go with Bob Graham and Debbie Wasserman Schultz for testing against Mel Martinez in our Florida tracking poll this week. Thanks again for all the suggestions. I chose Wasserman Schultz because she got more 'votes' than anyone else and Graham because I think it is an intriguing possibility.

Ron Klein and Allen Boyd also got a lot of suggestions so I'll use them in our next Florida poll after that, and then ask for your input again come September.

Just a reminder that we did poll Alex Sink and Robert Wexler last month. The results are here.

Thanks again!

Iffy Cowell Poll

Janet Cowell's campaign is touting a poll showing her with a 32-25 lead, a result at odds with our two polls on the race, which have shown her trailing opponent Bill Daughtridge by either one or two points.

It's not very hard to figure out where the discrepancy between this poll and ours is coming from- her pollsters claim that Democrats in North Carolina have a 21 point party ID advantage- 53% Democratic, 32% Republican, and 16% Independent.

The registration advantage in North Carolina is 45-33 Democratic. Typically the party ID has trended more in a Republican direction. Although the 2004 exit poll was flawed, it is still worth noting that it showed 40% of voters identifying themselves as Republicans and 39% as Democrats.

In PPP and SurveyUSA's last five polls we have found a Democratic party id advantage ranging anywhere from 8 to 16 points, with the average around 12 or 13.

Anzalone Liszt is a very good pollster and I hope they're just seeing something we don't, but a 21 point Democratic party id advantage in North Carolina strains credulity.

We'll have our own, possibly more realistic, numbers on the race tomorrow.

North Carolina Senate

Elizabeth Dole 49
Kay Hagan 40
Christopher Cole 4

Kay Hagan narrowed the race to five points when she was on the air and Elizabeth Dole wasn't, and Dole built the lead back up to 14 points when she was on the air and Hagan wasn't. Now with neither of them spending much money the race has stabilized at a nine point Dole lead, which seems like a reasonable baseline as the general election campaign really commences.

One problem for Hagan is one that plagued Erskine Bowles against Dole in 2002. Dole polls unusually well for a Republican among black voters, trailing just 63-25 in this particular survey. Hagan will have a hard time defeating Dole unless she gets at least 80% of the black vote.

This race took on a completely different tenor in recent days with the news that the DSCC plans to make a large investment in this race. If Hagan is able to get black voters to choose her at the same rate they do most Democrats, and that money is put to good use this race could tighten again in the fall.

Full results here.

North Carolina President

John McCain 47
Barack Obama 44
Bob Barr 3

Every North Carolina poll since Hillary Clinton left the race has shown the race close but with John McCain in the lead, and this one continues that trend.

Barack Obama's ability to win North Carolina may depend on the extent to which he is able to keep the election focused on the economy. It's the top issue for 47% of voters in the state, and among those people he has a strong 53-38 lead. He gets beaten badly though among those who are most concerned with moral and family values or immigration. The more North Carolinians are focused on pocketbook issues instead of social issues, the more likely it is that Obama will win.

Obama's 82-8 lead with black voters is more than offset by McCain's 57-34 advantage with whites. He has the lead in the Triad, Triangle, and African American heavy NE North Carolina while McCain leads in the Mountains, greater Charlotte area, and SE coast.

Full results here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

NC President and Senate numbers

We'll be announcing the latest numbers for President and Senate tomorrow morning a little after 7 AM on WBT, 1110 AM, in Charlotte. Tune in for the first look, or we should have them up on the blog by 11 or so.

The rest of the North Carolina numbers (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, etc.) will come out on Wednesday, as will the results from our Michigan poll.

Thanks many times over to Swing State Project for all the help in generating ideas of people for us to test against Mel Martinez! It's going to be hard to decide with all the great suggestions that have been made, but just because we don't try someone this time doesn't mean we won't sometime before November.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Florida Senate

Last month our polling found that Florida Senator Mel Martinez is really unpopular and vulnerable to challenges from CFO Alex Sink or Congressman Robert Wexler in 2010.

We'll be in the field in Florida this week and will test another pair of potential Democratic candidates against Martinez. Any suggestions? I want to get our surveys for this week finalized by Tuesday.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama and Independents

I'm trying to make heads or tails of who's winning 'independent' voters in this election. When a poll comes out showing John McCain doing well with those folks, the theory is expounded that Republicans disenchanted with their party are not identifying themselves as such anymore but still supporting McCain while calling themselves independents. When Barack Obama is doing well it's because he's bringing a new kind of leadership to the table that appeals to those who don't like two party politics.

So one important question, when trying to assess who's winning the independents, is who the independents this year really are. Is it the same folks who were independents in 2000 and 2004, or is it a different group of people with different values who've been pushed into that category by events over the last four years?

I don't know the answer to that question, but I am pretty sure it's not a homogeneous group, as much as the media sometimes makes it out to be.

As shown in the table below, Obama has been winning those voters in six of our last eight polls. There aren't any real trends in these numbers that jump out to me as explaining who the independents this year are and who they're supporting. With the exception of North Carolina, Obama's winning the independent voters in the states where he's winning overall and losing them in the states where he's trailing. Is there anything in here that captures the attention of you readers?










Obama 42-38





Obama 42-37

South Carolina




McCain 38-32





Obama 50-30





McCain 46-38





Obama 45-33

North Carolina




Obama 43-31





Obama 40-37

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Next week's polls

I don't have much to say today so I'll just go ahead and preview next week's polls: Michigan and North Carolina.

Michigan we'll bring you the standard updates on the Presidential race and Senate race. We'll also take another look ahead to the 2010 race for Governor, pitting Democrats Dennis Archer and John Cherry against Republicans Terri Lynn Land and Dick DeVos. Archer is the former mayor of Detroit, Cherry is the Lieutenant Governor, Land is the Secretary of State, and DeVos was the nominee in 2006. Our polling last month found Archer leading Attorney General Mike Cox and Congresswoman Candice Miller, with Cherry trailing each of them.

North Carolina we'll have new numbers on all the statewide races, as well as a look at who North Carolinians blame for corruption in politics: do they think the worst offenders are the Democrats in Raleigh, Republicans in Raleigh, Democrats in Washington, or Republicans in Washington?

The trends I'll be watching:

-Does Richard Moore's endorsement help Bev Perdue, particularly among Democrats?
-Two months in a row have shown Democrat challenger Beth Wood leading incumbent Les Merritt for Auditor, a result I find curious given the low profile nature of the job. Will that continue?
-What impact does including the Libertarian candidates for Senate and Lieutenant Governor have on those races?

That and much more early next week.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Vouchers and the Governors Race

The full Civitas poll is out today and one thing interesting to note in it is that 51% of respondents said they would be more likely to support a candidate who supported vouchers, while just 23% said that would make them less likely to support someone.

So this is another issue where Bev Perdue is just out in left field and Pat McCrory can slam her on it, right?

I don't think so. I've been down this road before. Vouchers are an issue where the more people know and understand about them, the less popular they are. When I was in high school in Michigan there was a statewide ballot initiative to enact a vouchers program. In January of 2000 a poll showed 53% of voters supporting it with just 23% opposed, numbers almost identical to those in this Civitas poll.

In November the measure failed 69-31.

How could there be such a huge swing of opinion over the course of the year? On the surface vouchers might sound like an alright concept, but when they get a thorough public airing with the voters hearing the arguments on both sides they tend to end up being pretty unpopular.

These numbers may look good for McCrory but I'd sure try to avoid this issue like the plague if I were him.

Speaking of the ill fated vouchers campaign, it was spearheaded by Dick and Betsy DeVos, long time Republican leaders in the state. Our Michigan poll next week will look at how Dick matches up to possible Democratic candidates Dennis Archer and John Cherry in the 2010 race for Michigan Governor.

Virginia Focus: George Allen

After a surprising loss in his campaign for reelection to the US Senate in 2006, many have wondered what George Allen's political future is. PPP's newest survey found that his political career isn't necessarily over.

When respondents were asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Allen, a plurality, 41% said they viewed him favorably. 36% have an unfavorable view and a surprising 23% said they weren't sure.

That number is kind of shocking. Allen spent 10 of the last 15 years in statewide office, between his time as Governor and in the Senate. During that time he drew more attention than most politicians, widely touted as a 2008 Presidential candidate and then becoming the center of a polarizing reelection campaign after his 'macaca' comments in 2006. If after all that a quarter of Virginia's likely voters still aren't sure what they think of him, what politician do they have strong opinions about?

The survey also took a look at who voters would choose in a contest between Allen and Jim Webb if a rematch were to be held today, and it looks like the race would be almost as close now as it was in 2006. 45% said they would choose Webb to 43% for Allen. Each would get about 80% of the voters in their own party, with independents going for Webb at a 44-37 rate. Allen would actually be surprisingly competitive with black voters, trailing 62-20, and with other non-white voters, 53-33. Those aren't terrible showings for a Republican candidate.

Many politicians are nothing if not resilient, and these results indicate that if Allen did decide to run for office in Virginia again in the future, he'd probably have a fighting chance.

Full results here.

Virginia President/Senate

Barack Obama 46
John McCain 44

Barack Obama continues to hold a two point lead in Virginia, the same margin he showed in PPP's June poll of the state.

The contest in Virginia breaks out pretty much as one would expect. Obama has large leads among black voters (77-16) and other non-white voters (50-31) while leading in three out of four age categories. McCain's strength comes from white voters (53-36) and those over 65 (49-38).

Lingering concerns over party unity after the long fight for the nomination between Obama and Hillary Clinton don't appear to be a problem for Democrats in this state. Obama's 83-10 lead among Democrats shows an identical margin to the 84-11 one McCain has with Republicans. Obama has a 42-38 lead with independent voters.

While the polls have been all over the map in some states like Florida and Ohio, they're all showing an almost identical picture in Virginia. It seems safe to say this will be at the top of the list of closely contested states this fall.

Mark Warner 57
Jim Gilmore 32

There's no sign that the race for the state's open Senate seat is getting any closer. Even among Republicans Gilmore only leads 65-25, and Warner leads with pretty much every other subgroup of the survey.

Full results here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Libertarian support and the Senate race

We'll include Libertarian Senate candidate Christopher Cole (as well as Lieutenant Governor candidate Phillip Rhodes) in our tracking poll for the first time next week.

The last two polls on the race have shown pretty different levels of support for Cole. A recent internal poll for Elizabeth Dole that her campaign leaked showed Cole at 6%. But the most recent Civitas poll showed him at just 2%.

We've consistently been showing more support for the Libertarian candidates than Civitas, so I thought that was perhaps somehow related to IVR. But the Dole poll doesn't support that theory. We'll see soon enough how Cole performs in our polling.

BTW, the Civitas poll brought the best news for Kay Hagan she's had in recent polling- her deficit is just 47-38, within single digits.

Party ID and North Carolina Polls


Party ID Breakdown

McCain Lead

Survey USA May



PPP June



PPP July



Civitas June



Civitas July



Survey USA July



This chart shows what the Democratic party id advantage was for each of the last two polls from Civitas, Survey USA, and PPP in North Carolina.

As you can see, the poll that showed the greatest party id advantage for Democrats also showed the greatest lead for John McCain. Granted that was while Hillary was still in the race, but it's still curious.

Throw that one out though and you have a six point spread in party ID advantage over the various polls but only a two point spread in McCain's lead. Is the party breakdown of polls less of an explanatory variable this year than it usually is? We'll certainly see some sign of that when you compare the Virginia poll we're releasing tomorrow with the one we conducted last month.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ohio Senate

George Voinovich Approval

Approve 31
Disapprove 40

Possible 2010 matches:

Jennifer Brunner 42
Voinovich 38

Voinovich 39
Mike Coleman 37

PPP continues to find that George Voinovich is quite vulnerable if he chooses to run for reelection in 2010. For the second month in a row his approval rating is just 31%.

He also trails Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in a hypothetical match up, while leading Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman by just a slight margin.

Even among self identified Republican voters Voinovich's approval rating is just 39%.

Last month PPP found that Congressmen Tim Ryan and Betty Sutton could also be formidable challengers to Voinovich.

It's a long way to 2010 but it appears this contest could be at the top of the list for competitive races.

Full results here

Ohio President

Barack Obama 48
John McCain 40

For the second month in a row Barack Obama has a solid lead in PPP's Ohio tracking poll.

His 91-6 lead among black voters in the state is not a big surprise, but he is also keeping it surprisingly competitive among white voters with whom he trails John McCain only 46-42. Whether he is able to keep the white vote this close will determine if he pulls off the victory in Ohio this fall or not.

Also of note is that despite losing the Ohio primary by a good margin, Obama is doing a pretty good job of keeping Democratic voters in the fold. He has a 77-11 lead with them, almost as good as the 83-12 edge McCain is showing with Republicans. Obama has a slight 42-37 advantage with independents.

Full results here

Friday, July 18, 2008

Why running against Jim Black isn't effective

In 2006 Republican legislative candidates tried to make Democratic ethical issues the focus of the election. It didn't work. Democrats made gains in both the House and the Senate.

Today's new Civitas poll may give the reason why. Only 49% of North Carolina voters know that Democrats control the House, an even smaller 40% know Democrats control the Senate, and only 61% even know that we have a Democratic Governor.

Voters are unhappy with their elected officials pretty much across the board right now. But it looks like a lot of them don't know who to blame if they're unhappy with what's going on in Raleigh. I bet upwards of 90% know what the party the President of the United States represents.

Pat McCrory and other Republican candidates can rail on corruption all they want this fall, but I think voters are much more likely to associate that term with Republicans in Washington than Democrats in Raleigh.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Civitas Governor Poll

Our friends at Civitas (yes I like 'em even if I don't agree with 'em) have new numbers for Governor, and they show Bev Perdue leading Pat McCrory 43-40, with Michael Munger at 2%.

Only 64% of Democrats in the poll express support for Perdue, which could be another example of those pesky folks in the Charlotte area picking region over party, at least for the time being. If Perdue ever nails those voters down she wins easily. McCrory has 75% of his party on board, and the Lieutenant Governor leads 41-28 among unaffiliated voters.

You can see the full results here.

Also, for those of you who are interested in how wrong the North Carolina exit polls in 2004 were, Civitas has put together a very handy guide to what the turnout demographics actually were. Good for them.

More stability in the NC polls

I wrote Tuesday that all NC polls are showing the same thing and today's new ones from Rasmussen continue the trend.

In the Presidential race they have John McCain up 45-42. That makes six polls in a row from the various pollsters doing the state showing the margin somewhere between 2-5 points.

In the Senate race Elizabeth Dole leads Kay Hagan 53-41. That makes five polls in a row now showing that margin between 10-14 points.

There's no Gubernatorial poll on today's schedule for Rasmussen but maybe that will come tomorrow. How much you want to bet it shows Bev Perdue and Pat McCrory within two or three points of each other?

A couple other things to note in these two polls. As many missteps as Mike Easley has had lately there are still half as many folks- 23%, who assess his job performance as 'poor' as there are who do the same for George W. Bush- 48%.

There's also continued evidence of the enthusiasm gap between Barack Obama and John McCain. Although McCain leads the poll overall, just 23% of respondents view him very favorably compared to 31% for Obama. Of course everyone gets the same one vote (hopefully!), so that's only going to do much for Obama if it helps translate into boots on the ground.

North Carolinians and the Iraq war

Post by PPP summer fellow John Willingham:

This week’s poll shows that North Carolinians are becoming increasingly frustrated about the situation in Iraq… or at least confused. While a majority of respondents felt the U.S. should have stayed out, there was considerable division of opinion among them over the number of troop levels. No real significant plurality emerged over the issue of how many troops should continue to be in Iraq; however, only 12% felt the need to increase troop levels in Iraq.

Much of this frustration and confusion most likely stems from the fact that winning and losing is difficult to judge in a counterinsurgency operation. For the past five years, the U.S. military has been fighting a counterinsurgency campaign framed in traditional battlefield terms. The administration’s ability to “set the goalposts” for victory and defeat has often changed, making it difficult for ordinary citizens to make an informed decision on whether or not the U.S. is winning or losing. Measuring success is difficult in this sense and, in some respect, this poll reveals the problematic nature of maintaining consistent and decisive public support in a counterinsurgency campaign.

Obviously, the crosstabs in this most recent poll reveal the polarizing nature of the Iraq War. The numbers show that Republicans and conservatives are much more likely to think the U.S. did the “right thing” in invading Iraq, while majorities of independents and Democrats believed the U.S. should have “stayed out.”

The Evangelical measure was not as predictive as I initially thought. Once again, then number of “born again” Christians in the survey was extremely high and can almost be taken with a grain of salt; however, when forced to decide on the issue of U.S. involvement in Iraq, “born again” Christians were split over whether the U.S. did the right thing or should have stayed out.

Full results here.

NC Sports Poll

PPP summer fellow Curtis Labban conducted a poll about sports in North Carolina. The full results are here. This is his take on what they mean:

The results for this poll were not in all surprising, in that the Carolina Panthers and the Carolina Tar Heels are two of the most popular and lucrative franchises in the state, however I find it kinda sad that the Charlotte Bobcats and the Carolina Hurricanes get no love from the state.

When the Hornets were still in Charlotte they were one of the most loved teams in North Carolina, and also a team that received a lot of respect from abroad (I've seen many people wearing Hornets jerseys outside the state, and the country as well). It of course didn't follow that the love would be passed down to the Bobcats. One obvious reason is that the Bobcats were an expansion team and have had little overall success in the NBA so far, but one would think that the brand-new Bobcats Arena in downtown Charlotte might have drawn more crowds than it has. On the other end, the Carolina Hurricanes still get little respect from North Carolinians. No, hockey has not caught on in the South, and no, the Hurricanes don't do a great job of marketing the team across the state, but due to the success that the team has had in the past 10 years (2 Stanley Cup Finals appearances, with 1 Championship) one might think that people would start watching. The main reason is the lack of ability to even watch NHL games, since ESPN pulled out before the lockout, but I still find it surprising that 18% of the state didn't even know that they had a professional hockey team.

Other findings from the poll were that the state generally favors the Tar Heels over the Blue Devils, with 57% pulling for the Heels over the 32% that favored the Blue Devils. It also found, surprisingly, that only 40% of North Carolinians avidly support one or more Atlantic Coast Conference athletic program. Given the tremendous amount of pride that the ACC takes in its football and basketball success over the years, it seems as though many more people would claim to follow at least one team, be it their alma-mater or a school that is geographically close.

Took your suggestions

Thank you to those of you who left suggestions of questions for our Ohio and Virginia polls on this thread.

I am going to test Jennifer Brunner and Mike Coleman against George Voinovich as suggested.

I am also, as suggested, going to poll on people's attitudes towards George Allen and how people would vote in an Allen-Webb match today.

Some folk suggested polling on the 2009 race for Governor in Virginia. We actually took a preliminary look at that in our survey last month. But there were some good suggestions in there and I might poll on the favorable/unfavorable for the three candidates next month, as well as whether Virginians agree with the one term rule and whether they would reelect Tim Kaine if that was an option.

Thanks for the input! I will probably do this for several of the states we poll, and I am listening.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Just got off the phone with someone from the Family Policy Council who politely informed me that Civitas did a poll on bullying bill and got the opposite results from us. I told her that Civitas had a way of getting the answers they want.

Which of these polling questions do you think is more even handed?

This is how they worded it:

"Do you think public schools in North Carolina should implement an anti-bullying policy that requires students be taught that homosexuality, bisexuality, cross-dressing and other behaviors are normal and acceptable?"

This is how we worded it:

"There is currently a proposal in the General Assembly that specifies the need to protect children from bullying based on their sexual orientation. Do you think this provision should be passed into law?"

I'm pretty sure we win the prize for fairness on that one.

Poll on the Bullying Bill

There is currently a proposal in the General Assembly that specifies the need to protect children from bullying based on their sexual orientation. Do you think this provision should be passed into law?

Yes 72%
No 28%

North Carolinians overwhelmingly support a controversial provision in a bullying bill to specifically name sexual orientation as something children need to be protected from bullying based on.

Support for that provision comes from across party lines. 84% of Democrats are for it, as are 72% of independents, and 58% of Republicans.

Although conservative groups have lined up behind the bill and generated a lot of correspondence to legislators on it, it appears they don't even speak for the majority of Republicans in the state.

The poll also showed strong support for the bill across race, gender, and age lines.

Full results here

Don't tell the McHenry campaign!

Look whose polls the National Republican Congressional Committee are touting.

More Erroneous Exit Polls

I posted a couple months ago about how every single time anyone releases a North Carolina poll they get grief for under representing the black vote. That's because the 2004 exit poll said the voting population in North Carolina was 26% black. According to the State Board of Elections it was actually only 18.5%.

Yesterday when we released our South Carolina poll I heard from several people again that they thought we were under representing the black vote at 29%. The 2004 exit poll said 30%, and many think Obama at the top of the ticket will equate to a 10% increase in black turnout which would put it at 33% for this year.

Unfortunately the 2004 South Carolina exit poll was wrong too. According to the official data from the South Carolina Election Commission, 73% of voters were white in the 2004 general election and 27% were non white. That's a sharp strong contrast to the exit poll that said just 67% of voters were white with 30% black and 3% other races.

Race is not the only thing the 2004 exit polls got wrong in South Carolina. The exit poll also stated that just 11% of those voting in the election were over the age of 65. Based on the actual data the electorate was actually 19% over the age of 65.

Given the over representation of African Americans and the under representation of senior citizens in South Carolina, using the 2004 exit polls as a guide is a pretty risky proposition for pollsters since each of those errors would inflate Barack Obama's numbers.

We've only compared the real demographic data to the exit polls in two states- North Carolina and South Carolina. Those were both highly erroneous. Can the 2004 exit polls be trusted anywhere? I hope someone with more time than me will see what sorts of problems there were in other states as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Taking your suggestions

Last month we showed that George Voinovich had a 33% approval rating and could be in for a strong challenge from either Tim Ryan or Betty Sutton in 2010. I want to poll another two possible challengers against Voinovich for an Ohio poll we'll have going into the field on Thursday. Do our readers have any suggestions? I want the people we poll to be a) people who reasonably might run and b) would be viable. So for instance I'm sure Ted Strickland would be a strong candidate, but I'm sure he's happy being Governor. And I'm sure there are some obscure legislators who would love to run for the US Senate, but could never mount a viable campaign. Leave a comment or send me an email by noonish on Thursday and I'll consider your suggestions.

We're also polling Virginia this week and at this point I don't have anything I want to poll except the Presidential and Senate races but I'd like to add three or four other questions to the poll. If there are hypothetical future political races or public policy questions that PPP readers in Virginia think we should ask let me know.


NC Polls: Stability is the new story

During the primaries the story of the polling in North Carolina was its instability. One week in April PPP had Bev Perdue leading Richard Moore by eight, Survey USA showed the two tied, and a McClatchy poll showed Moore leading Perdue by six. Another week in March we had Kay Hagan leading Jim Neal by 11 points while they showed Neal leading Hagan by a point. As late as the last week before the primary Mason Dixon showed Fred Smith leading the GOP race for Governor while PPP and Survey USA each showed Pat McCrory with a lead in the mid single digits. It was hard to tell from the polls what the heck was going on, because they were all saying something different.

Not so for the general election. Survey USA came out with its newest round of polls today. In the Presidential race they show John McCain leading Barack Obama 50-45. Since the beginning of June five telephone polls have been released for North Carolina- two by us, and one each from SUSA, Rasmussen, and Civitas. Every single one of them has shown McCain leading by 2-5 points.

In the Gubernatorial race they have Bev Perdue up 47-46 on Pat McCrory. PPP, SUSA, and Rasmussen have all shown Perdue up by a single point in their latest polls. The last Civitas one showed her up two. Hard to be much more consistent than that.

Finally, they have Elizabeth Dole up 54-42 in the Senate race. The most recent PPP, SUSA, Rasmussen, and Civitas polls have all shown leads of 10-14 points for Dole over Hagan.

Sometimes the polls all show the same thing and they're all wrong (New Hampshire), but that's not the case too often. It's a good bet that Dole has a solid lead, McCain has a small lead, and the race for Governor is pretty much tied.

South Carolina Governor 2010

Jim Rex 36
Gresham Barrett 31

Gresham Barrett 40
Inez Tenenbaum 39

Henry McMaster 36
Jim Rex 36

Henry McMaster 39
Inez Tenenbaum 39

There aren't really any early favorites for Governor of South Carolina in 2010. None of the four candidates who we polled in possible match ups against each other stood out from the field, and of course there are other folks who may run then as well.

Some conclusions can be reached from the data though:

-For better or worse Inez Tenenbaum helps people pick a side. For instance while 33% of respondents were undecided about whether they would support Jim Rex or Gresham Barrett, only 21% were undecided between Barrett and Tenenbaum. 28% were undecided in the McMaster-Rex contest, but just 22% were undecided in a possible McMaster-Tenenbaum contest.

Tenenbaum may be the most well known of these four candidates from her Senate candidacy, and it appears that means more voters like and more voters don't like her than is the case for the other candidates.

-Tenenbaum is more popular with black voters than Jim Rex. She gets 65 and 67% of the black vote against Barrett and McMaster respectively, while Rex gets 48% and 61%. That fact could bode well for her in a competitive Democratic primary.

-McMaster does much better among Republicans against Rex than Barrett does. McMaster has a 62-10 edge with GOP voters while Barrett leads just 51-16. Barrett actually performs better among Democrats than McMaster against Rex- a 59-11 rather than a 66-9 one. But that won't do much to get him out of the primary.

Full results here.

South Carolina Senate

Lindsey Graham 52
Bob Conley 21
Mark McBride 10

Lindsey Graham 54
Bob Conley 32

Whether former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride manages to get on the ballot or not, Lindsey Graham is likely to win an easy reelection to the US Senate.

While the conventional wisdom is that McBride would pull conservative voters away from Graham, it appears that his presence would actually hurt Conley more. Conley polls 11 points higher without McBride in the race than with him. It's only a two point difference for Graham.

Conley is certainly not a typical Democratic candidate, and that fact seems to have Democratic voters skeptical about him. In the three way race he earns only 40% of the Democratic vote with Graham at 24% and McBride at 7%. Head to head with Graham he leads 57-22, a better performance but not one that's going to put him anywhere close to winning.

Full results here.

South Carolina President

John McCain 45
Barack Obama 39
Bob Barr 5

Barack Obama is keeping it closer than other Democrats have in recent years in South Carolina, but still trails John McCain by six points.

The demographics fueling Obama's ability to stay within striking range are the same ones that allowed him to win a dominant victory in the state's Democratic primary. He leads 77-10 with black voters and 54-32 with voters under 30. John McCain leads within pretty much every other subgroup.

If there is a path to victory for Obama in South Carolina it includes maximizing turnout from those two groups favorable to him, and also hoping that more conservatives unhappy with John McCain will turn toward Bob Barr.

Full results here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Colorado Senate 2010

Ken Salazar Approval

Approve 38
Disapprove 36

Salazar 44
Bill Owens 41

Salazar 44
John Elway 37

Ken Salazar could have a tough race on his hands if former Governor Bill Owens decides to challenge him for the Senate in 2010. Owens polled within the margin of error in a hypothetical match up, and Salazar's approval rating is not where he would want it to be.

Just for fun PPP also tested former Broncos star John Elway against Salazar, but he doesn't poll as well. Although Elway does as well against Salazar as Owens does among Democratic voters, only 64% of Republicans say they would support him compared to 76% who say they would vote for Owens if he became a candidate.

Full results here.

Colorado President and Senate

Barack Obama 47
John McCain 43

Mark Udall 47
Bob Schaffer 38

Barack Obama, on the strength of the Hispanic vote, is leading in Colorado. The state has a small black population, and John McCain leads 46-45 among white voters. Obama's 58-34 lead among the state's growing Hispanic population gives him the advantage overall.

In 2004 exit polls showed the Hispanic vote in the state to be about 8% but it is believed that will increase to the low teens for this year. The larger the percentage of the electorate they comprise in Colorado, the more likely Obama is to take the state.

McCain is doing slightly better keeping Republicans in his column (84-11) than Obama is doing keeping Democrats in his (77-15). Obama enjoys a 50-30 advantage with independents.

In the race for the state's open US Senate seat, Democrat Mark Udall continues to show a solid advantage.

Full results here.

Points for Richard Burr

I must admit Richard Burr is one of my favorite Republicans. When I was a student at Carolina I helped organize several 'counter rallies' to rallies his campaign had on campus and he would always come over and introduce himself and be charming as could be. I don't like his politics but I think he's a good man.

That leads me to how his camp reacted to today's poll showing his approval at 27%. They didn't trash it, calling us liberals or criticizing IVR. They just said they were glad to see his disapproval was pretty low and that they need to do more to get the word out about what they're doing.

It was a legitimate poll, and they had a legitimate response. I'll take this over the whining of Missouri gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof any day.

Burr finds low approval

Approve 27%
Disapprove 26%
Not sure 46%

Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina has just a 27% approval rating, according to a PPP survey conducted last month.

It's not that the voters dislike Burr- there are slightly more who approve of the job he's doing than disapprove. But a remarkably high 46% of them are ambiguous toward him.

That fact makes Burr pretty vulnerable for reelection in two years. Incumbency is a huge advantage, but much less so when the voters don't even really know who you are. And a 46% 'not sure' rating for a US Senator shows he's not doing much to attract the voters' attention.

Predictably for a Republican, Burr is most popular with voters whose top concerns are taxes, immigration, and moral and family values. His lowest levels of popularity are with voters concerned about health care, the war, and the economy.

How vulnerable Burr is for 2010 will depend on who steps up to challenge him. Democrats' prospects will be improved if viable candidates get into the race much earlier in 2009 than the October date when Kay Hagan entered the contest to replace Elizabeth Dole.

Although Hagan is now relatively competitive in fundraising, she has a significant cash on hand deficit because of all the money Dole was accruing when she had no opposition. The earlier candidates start running, the more time they will have to stay competitive with Burr in the money race.

Full results here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Coming next week...

In addition to the Richard Burr approval poll mentioned below we'll have new polls in South Carolina and Colorado.

We polled South Carolina because it's next door, some polling has shown the race close, and we're interested to see if Obama really has any chance there. If we find the answer is no we probably won't poll it again.

We also looked at Lindsey Graham's reelection chances and whether an independent candidacy from former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, running to his right, could give him any trouble. The simple answer based on our interviews so far is no. Finally, we looked ahead to the 2010 race for Governor, polling Democrats Jim Rex and Inez Tenenbaum against Republicans Henry McMaster and Gresham Barrett.

In Colorado we'll have new numbers for President and Senate, as well as a look at whether it would take a Hail Mary (or something less) to give Ken Salazar trouble for reelection next time around.

We're aiming for Colorado Monday and South Carolina Tuesday, but that's subject to change.

Dole and Hagan Money

Elizabeth Dole did a large ad buy in June and July, and still finds herself with more than twice as much cash on hand as Kay Hagan.

Obviously that's partly because Hagan had a somewhat serious primary challenge, which Dole didn't. But it's also because Hagan got a late start into the race. She might be in a much better position financially if she had signed up in March or April rather than October. That dead time before there's really much of a race is prime time for fundraising, but because of Hagan's late entry she had to start active campaigning almost immediately.

Democratic challengers will have a better chance against Richard Burr if some candidates get into the race in early 2009. We'll have numbers on Burr's approval that might get folks thinking about it early next week.

Update: The Hagan campaign points out in a press release that since April 17th Dole has raised just $150,000 more than them, and that Dole's cash on hand advantage has gone from being ten times as much as Hagan's to just a little more than twice as much.

Hagan is definitely doing an impressive job of fundraising, and her competitiveness over the last ten weeks bodes well for her ability to keep up with Dole on the air this fall. That Dole still has a significant cash on hand advantage despite Hagan's catching up of late is just one more reason why it would be nice to have our 2010 candidates raising money for much of 2009. Hagan might be in even better shape if she had been doing the same for the entirety of 2007.

A Stretch by McCrory

Pat McCrory raised less than half as much money as Bev Perdue during Q2. His campaign is spinning it as a success, claiming that the total is $190,000 more than Richard Vinroot raised in the same period eight years ago, and $600,000 more than Patrick Ballantine raised in that time four years ago.

It's not even worth making a comparison to four years ago. The Republicans had a serious primary while Mike Easley did not, and the primary was in July.

But the McCrory campaign wants us to be impressed that they raised about 20% more than Vinroot did in the same quarter last time, when the seat was open and both parties had competitive primaries.

That's fine. Let's look at how much Governor Easley raised during that period. The answer is 1.25 million dollars. That means the 2.3 mill Perdue raised in this quarter is 84% more than Easley took in.

Kind of makes the McCrory spin look like grasping for straws.

The polls are pretty darn close right now but I think Perdue will end up with a solid victory this fall, barring a serious change in the state or national political climate. She has a greater financial advantage over McCrory than she did over Richard Moore, and she still blew out Moore. Zach Ambrose doesn't get enough credit for how well run and disciplined Perdue's ship has been, and it's really hard to look back over the last year and see any particularly weak strategic decisions.

When you've got the money advantage and you have a great team that knows how to spend it wisely you're going to be in pretty good shape. If they keep on as they've been doing so far, they should win easily this fall.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More on Libertarians

I guess this is my week for being interested in the Libertarians. I dug deeper into the results of our North Carolina poll from last week and here were some of the findings:

-Folks who are supporting a Libertarian for one office are not necessarily planning to vote for the party's 'ticket.' For instance a plurality of Bob Barr's supporters, 37%, support Bev Perdue for Governor. 29% support Michael Munger and 27% are for Pat McCrory. There is a similar trend when looking at how Munger's supporters plan to go for President- 41% are for John McCain, 29% support Barr, and 27% plan right now to vote for Obama.

-Taxes and immigration appear to be the issues those supporting Munger find more important than the population at large. While just 5% of poll respondents overall listed immigration as their main concern, 18% of Barr and 10% of Munger's supporters do. Immigration isn't necessarily a big Libertarian issue, so this could be a sign that disaffected conservatives are going for the third party right now. Taxes were also listed as the top issue for only 5% of poll respondents, but it's the biggest thing for 14% of Munger support and 10% of Barr's.

The economy is still the biggest issue for voters supporting Libertarian candidates, but it runs about 10-15% lower than it does for the entire poll among those respondents.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

O the irony

We did a Missouri poll because people were complaining that there weren't enough Missouri polls. Now I see about five minutes after we finished releasing ours that Rasmussen put one out this afternoon too.

I'll go ahead and announce that we're doing South Carolina and Colorado this week, with one most likely released Monday and the other released Tuesday. If all of our peers could give some rough idea of their schedule we might be able to avoid this sort of thing!

Missouri Senate 2010

Kit Bond 44
Robin Carnahan 42

Kit Bond 47
Susan Montee 35

Bond Approval

Approve 39
Disapprove 33

Longtime Republican Senator Kit Bond could be in trouble if he was challenged by Robin Carnahan in 2010. PPP found that he would lead by an amount within the margin of error in a hypothetical match up between the two.

Bond's approval rating is just 39%, which is actually better than the 33% and 23% figures PPP recently found for George Voinovich in Ohio and Mel Martinez in Florida respectively. It's not a very good time to be a Republican Senator.

It's a long way off, and Bond may not even run for reelection in two years, but it's not surprising to see that a Carnahan would be likely to give him a strong challenge.

Full results here.

Missouri Governor

Jay Nixon 47
Kenny Hulshof 37

Jay Nixon 44
Sarah Steelman 39

As the polling has shown all along, Democrat Jay Nixon is the clear front runner to become the next Governor of Missouri.

There are some interesting trends within the numbers though. You would think that since Hulshof trails Nixon by ten points while Steelman is at just a five point disadvantage that Steelman would be the favorite for the GOP nomination. But the survey shows Hulshof leading 71-19 among self identified Republican voters over Nixon with Steelman leading just 63-22 among them. The reason Steelman is doing better than Hulshof relative to Nixon is that she gets twice as much support from Democrats as him. But that won't do much for her in the primary. This will be an interesting contest to watch.

Full results here

Missouri President

John McCain 47
Barack Obama 44

Missouri appears to be a tossup in the Presidential race for this fall, with John McCain holding a slight lead over Barack Obama at this point.

The good news for Obama and other Democrats in the state is that Democratic party id has surpassed that for Republicans in the state. When PPP last polled Missouri, during its hotly contested 2006 Senate race, Republicans had a 40-39 party id advantage. While the Democrats have remained constant since then, Republican self identifiers have dropped 6%, with a commensurate increase in independents.

The bad news is that Obama is not doing as good a job holding onto the folks who identify with his party as McCain is. While McCain has an 85-10 lead with Republicans, Obama is up 77-15 among Democrats. There's also an indication that while some former Republicans might identify themselves as independent now, they're still supporting the GOP's candidate for President- McCain leads 46-38 among them.

Missouri will certainly be a state to watch over the next four months.

Full results here.

Will the Libertarians do this well?

PPP has included Libertarian candidates now in a number of its polls, and here's how they've done:



Candidate and Percentage


North Carolina

Bob Barr (5%)


North Carolina

Michael Munger (5%)


NC 10

Bob Barr (6%)


NC 10

Michael Munger (6%)

Insurance Commissioner

North Carolina

Mark McMains (9%)


NC 8

Bob Barr (7%)


NC 8

Michael Munger (6%)


NC 8

Thomas Hill (7%)


North Carolina (June Poll)

Bob Barr (6%)


North Carolina (June Poll)

Michael Munger (4%)

Almost every time we put out a poll showing these Libertarians doing well, I see blog posts saying 'well, the Libertarians won't actually end up doing this well.' That's certainly the conventional wisdom, and I don't necessarily disagree with it but here are some reasons the decent showing they're getting in the polls could be legit:

1) People are unhappy with how both major parties are running the Government. President Bush's approval rating is under 40% in almost every state, even those that voted for him overwhelmingly. Congress, controlled by the Democrats, is even less popular with a Rasmussen poll yesterday showing just 9% of Americans approving of its performance. With the voters disgusted with how both the Democrats and Republicans are doing things, why wouldn't some vote for a third party this year?

2) Consistency. It's not like we had one good poll for Barr or Munger. We've included Barr in four polls now and he's performed between 5-7% in each one. Munger has been in the 4-6% range for each one. So this trend of Libertarians doing better than you might expect is not just based on one outlying poll.

3) Candidate strength. Bob Barr is well known for a third party Presidential candidate, and Michael Munger is certainly the most attractive and attention grabbing candidate the Libertarians have had in North Carolina in recent memory. It makes sense that they would do better than other recent nominees of their party.

It will be interesting to see how they do this fall.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

NC 8: Gubernatorial Race

Bev Perdue 43
Pat McCrory 38
Michael Munger 6

Bev Perdue has a small lead in the 8th Congressional District, where Mike Easley won 53-45 against Richard Vinroot the last time this seat was open.

It may appear that Perdue is slightly under performing relative to Easley, but given that almost the entirety of the 8th District is within the Charlotte tv market, this is not a bad result for Perdue running against McCrory.

There is some sign that McCrory may be getting crossover support though. Perdue leads just 66-17 among self identified Democrats, compared to McCrory's 71-11 lead with Republicans.

Full results here

NC 8: Presidential Race

Barack Obama 43
John McCain 39

Bob Barr 7

Barack Obama leads in North Carolina's 8th Congressional District, which George W. Bush won with 54% in both of his elections.

The 8th is the kind of place where Obama needs to have success if he's going to have any chance of winning North Carolina this fall. It's ancestrally Democratic but has trended Republican in recent federal elections. How it votes could be a bellwether for the state as a whole.

Obama is winning only 25% of the white vote in the district, but it's almost 30% African American and his 83% share of those voters gives him the overall lead. High black turnout, as well as support from the district's emerging Hispanic population, will be vital to his prospects here.

This is a district worth watching nationally this fall between its possibility of swinging from 2004 in the Presidential race, as well as its competitive Congressional battle.

Full results here.

NC 8: Congressional Race

Robin Hayes 43
Larry Kissell 36
Thomas Hill 7

Hayes Approval:

Approve 38
Disapprove 37

Kissell Favorability:

Favorable 27
Unfavorable 25

Incumbent Robin Hayes, who barely edged Larry Kissell in 2006, has a seven point lead in this year's rematch in North Carolina's 8th Congressional District.

The good news for Kissell is that he has a lot more room to move up. While only 6% of Republicans are undecided, 22% of Democrats are. Among African American voters, Kissell is currently at 55% with 24% undecided. That is likely to move at least into the 80% range if not higher once Kissell reintroduces himself to the voters this fall.

Kissell is largely undefined to the voters. 48% do not have an opinion of him one way or the other. The negative ads Hayes ran against Kissell in June were an attempt to define Kissell with the voters before Kissell got the opportunity to do so himself, but they don't seem to have driven his negatives up too high.

Hayes does not enjoy a particularly high approval rating, at 38%. It is interesting that even after ten years in Congress a full quarter of his constituents do not have an opinion one way or the other about his job performance.

Hayes is definitely the early favorite here but Kissell is within striking distance, and if he gets the resources he needs to compete with Hayes on the airwaves this fall the contest could go either way.

Full results here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Perdue and Offshore Drilling

Some folks deride Bev Perdue as someone whose principles shift with the winds, the kind of person who tells each individual audience whatever she thinks they want to hear.

I don't think that's true, and she's demonstrating it on the issue of offshore drilling. All public polling that I've seen, including ours, shows pretty strong support from North Carolinians for it. Given that, you have to believe that Perdue's internal polling is telling her the same thing.

Yet in the face of all that, she has been unyielding in her opposition. It's the sort of principled stand that she's been accused of never taking. This is one where she's ignoring the potential political fallout and standing strong.

Environmental groups stayed out of the primary, but given Pat McCrory's power company experience and the divergent stands of the candidates on this issue, you have to wonder when they're going to start getting on board with the candidate who clearly better represents their interests.

U.S. and Iran Showdown

This week’s poll concerning U.S. foreign policy toward Iran suggests that a majority of North Carolinians harbor unfavorable views toward Tehran. 65% of respondents view Iran as a threat to U.S. national security and 71% believe it is likely that Iran would use nuclear weapons to destroy U.S. interests at home and abroad.

Considering the recent developments over the existence of Iran’s nuclear program, these numbers suggest that a majority of North Carolinians perceive hostile intentions on the part of Tehran. Of course, Israel also plays a major role in this diplomatic showdown. According to the poll, a majority of respondents believe the U.S. has an obligation to play a pivotal role in the region. 51% believe the U.S. should protect Israel against Iranian threats “at all costs” and 78% of respondents believe it is likely that Iran would use a nuclear weapon against Israel.

Last winter, the Bush administration suffered a diplomatic setback when a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) reported that Iran halted its nuclear program almost four years ago. Vice President Cheney has repeatedly supported air strikes against Tehran, but the NIE seriously hurt the ability of Washington hawks to press for war against Iran. While the report did confirm that Iran possessed a nuclear weapons program in the early part of the decade, the recent war in Iraq coupled with the 2007 NIE made it difficult for administration officials to heighten fears in the U.S. and the international community over Iran’s intentions. Recently, Israeli leaders pressed U.S. decision-makers to act against the threat of a Iranian nuclear attack against Israel forcing Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen to travel to Israel in an effort to convince Israeli officials to hold back on possible air strikes against suspected nuclear weapons facilities in Iran. As some have noted it would be difficult for Israel’s military to act unilaterally against perceived Iranian threats. Admiral Mullen and Defense Secretary Gates are concerned that tensions between Israel and Iran could lead to desperate action which could touch off a regional war leaving the U.S. in a huge predicament within the Middle East.

Despite the NIE report, the poll shows that a majority of North Carolinians do not support Iran’s development of a nuclear program used exclusively for civilian purposes and 54% believe the U.S. should attempt to counter Iran’s influence in the region. Moreover, 54% believe the U.S. should continue to play an active political role in the Middle East. As expected, Republican respondents tend to be slightly more hawkish then their Democrat counterparts… but not by much.

More troubling is the fact that 63% of respondents believe that Iran, an overwhelmingly Shia nation has links with Al-Qaeda, a Sunni-based terrorist organization. When asked if Iran should become the next front in the War on Terror, North Carolinians appear divided with numbers hovering around 34%.

Post by Jode Willingham, PPP Summer Fellow

Full results here.

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