Sunday, August 31, 2008

Changing demographics have North Carolina trending blue: Conclusions

PPP has released a new report comparing the voting preferences of native North Carolinians to non-native North Carolinians. I am posting the report on the blog in four posts- this is post four. You can read the whole report here.

For Barack Obama to win North Carolina this year it will probably take an exceptional turnout from black voters and young voters. Moving forward though the changing demographics of the state would seem to have the potential to make it one of those permanent swing states in Presidential elections. Older conservative Democrats who often vote Republican will continue to be replaced in the population by more liberal Democrats who consistently vote for their party’s candidates. There will likely also continue to be an influx of voters who identify with neither party but at least for this year are leaning more toward the Democratic side of the spectrum.

Another fact we can’t fully address yet is the emergence of the Hispanic vote as a meaningful factor in North Carolina politics, but as more children of immigrants born in the United States turn 18 and become eligible to vote in the coming cycles that should also contribute to making North Carolina more Democratic in federal elections.

If you thought our piece of the action during the Presidential primary was an exciting change from what has tended to be relatively boring races for the White House in North Carolina, you can probably look forward to more attention in the coming years.

This analysis based on a PPP survey of 2,066 North Carolinians including 1,115 natives and 951 non-natives conducted from August 20th to 23rd.

Changing demographics have North Carolina trending blue: a new kind of Independent as well

PPP has released a new report comparing the voting preferences of native North Carolinians to non-native North Carolinians. I am posting the report on the blog in four posts- this is post three. You can read the whole report here.

In addition to Democrats who actually vote for Democrats replacing those who do not in the population, the increased representation of independents among those who have migrated to the state has the potential to turn it bluer as well:


Native Independents

Non-Native Independents


John McCain 47-22

Barack Obama 50-32


Elizabeth Dole 37-30

Kay Hagan 45-26


Pat McCrory 35-30

Bev Perdue 47-27

These numbers help to explain why the state is turning bluer, even as fewer voters identify as Democrats. Non-native independents support Barack Obama at a higher rate than native Democrats.

Changing demographics have North Carolina trending blue: a new kind of Democrat

PPP has released a new report comparing the voting preferences of native North Carolinians to non-native North Carolinians. I am posting the report on the blog in four posts- this is post two. You can read the whole report here.

Somewhat counter intuitively, especially to those who are not students of North Carolina politics, the new residents who are much more likely to vote Democratic are also much less likely to identify themselves with the Democratic Party. The partisan breakdown of native North Carolinians is 56% Democrats, 34% Republicans, and 10% Independents. For the migrants it’s 44% Democrats, 37% Republicans, and 19% Independents. There’s not a statistically significant difference in the percentage of folks who identify as Republicans in each group, but there is a meaningful difference from Democrats to Independents between the older and newer citizens of the state.

Why are these folks turning the state blue if they’re less Democratic than the folks they’re replacing? These Democrats actually vote Democratic. There’s a long tradition in North Carolina politics of registered Democrats voting Republican, especially in federal races. Here are the numbers:


Native Democrats

Non-Native Democrats


Barack Obama 65-24

Barack Obama 77-11


Kay Hagan 60-21

Kay Hagan 80-9


Bev Perdue 63-20

Bev Perdue 75-10

Non-native Democrats support Barack Obama for President at a 25% greater clip than those Democrats who were born here. In the Senate race the difference is even more staggering, with Kay Hagan performing 32% better with the newer residents to the state. Even though the non-Democratic voting of registered Democrats has been less of an issue with races for state office than federal office, even Perdue does 22 points better with the non-natives.

The differences between native and non-native Democrats are even more significant when you break it down just among white voters:


Native White Democrats

Non-Native White Democrats


Barack Obama 45-41

Barack Obama 73-15


Kay Hagan 59-30

Kay Hagan 85-10


Bev Perdue 50-32

Bev Perdue 76-14

Barack Obama does not even command a majority of votes from white Democrats who were born in North Carolina. On average he, Perdue, and Hagan perform 44 points better with white Democrats who have moved in than the natives.

Changing demographics have North Carolina trending blue: overview

PPP has released a new report comparing the voting preferences of native North Carolinians to non-native North Carolinians. I am posting the report on the blog in four posts- this is post one. You can read the whole report here.

A new analysis by Public Policy Polling comparing the voting preferences of North Carolinians who were born here to those who have moved into the state provides evidence that the state could trend more Democratic, particularly at the federal level, in the coming election cycles.

The Big Picture

In its simplest form, the evidence shows that native North Carolinians are supporting Republican candidates for the major statewide offices this year, while migrants to the state are supporting Democrats:


Native North Carolinians

Non-Native North Carolinians


McCain 48 Obama 40

Obama 46 McCain 41


Dole 42 Hagan 39

Hagan 47 Dole 35


McCrory 41 Perdue 41

Perdue 46 McCrory 35

Newer North Carolina residents support the Democratic candidate more by a margin of anywhere from 11-15 points in the races for President, Governor, and Senate.

Friday, August 29, 2008

NC Cities bigger than Wasilla

Two years ago Sarah Palin's only elected experience was as the Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Now John McCain and the Republicans think she's worthy of being a breath from the White House.

Here's a list of selected North Carolina metropolises that are more populous than Wasilla:

Waynesville, Dunn, Mt. Holly, Washington, Holly Springs, Pinehurst, Kings Mountain, Lincolnton, Hendersonville, Southern Pines, Tarboro, Smithfield, Hope Mills, Newton, Indian Trail, Graham, Wake Forest, Cornelius, Boone, Reidsville, Mint Hill, Albemarle, Clemmons, Eden, Henderson, Carrboro, Roanoke Rapids, Elizabeth City, Morganton, Morehead City, Garner, Lenoir, Kernersville, Mooresville, Shelby, Lexington, Apex, Thomasville, Lumberton, Asheboro, Matthews, Havelock, New Bern, Sanford, Statesville, Kinston, Huntersville, Monroe, Salisbury, Laurinburg, etc.

So here's my challenge to the Obama campaign: these towns represent pretty much every tv market in the state, and I bet an equally ridiculous sounding lists of cities bigger than Wasilla could be produced in almost every other state that they're targeting. Get a group of friendly Mayors to do a press conference in every one of those markets the day of Palin's nomination speech and talk about how they're evidently qualified to hold the second highest office in the land two years from now. I'm sure viewers in the Triad would be a little shocked to know that this women just recently was leading a town smaller than Eden and Reidsville, folks in the Mountains would be a little taken aback to find it was smaller than Hendersonville and Waynesville, and so forth.

This pitch is fat and Obama's folks should be sure to knock it out of the park.

Wrapping up the Week

Look out Sunday for a special report from PPP on the changing electorate of North Carolina. I'll post excerpts from it here and the full thing will be on our website.

I don't know why I'm just getting to this today but an independent analysis from the wise sage of found earlier this week that there is no Democratic lean in PPP's numbers. Check it out here.

I'm not surprised in the least because whatever anyone wants to believe, we just put the numbers out the way they come. We certainly don't hide the fact that we're Democrats, and most of the analysis I do focuses on taking the numbers and tying them into what Barack Obama/Kay Hagan/Bev Perdue needs to do to win but the numbers themselves are completely unbiased. I know some folks like to take every poll we release and add five points for McCain, and I don't have a problem with that, but I'm guessing you're going to be really disappointed on election day if you let that shape your expectations.

Have a good weekend!

Upcoming Polling

We decided not to do any statewide Presidential polls anywhere in the country until after both conventions have concluded. The week of September 8th we'll catch up with polls in Michigan, Florida, and Colorado.

We are going to have fresh numbers next week on North Carolina's 8th Congressional District, where Larry Kissell is trying to unseat incumbent Robin Hayes. That poll was in the field Monday-Wednesday of this week.

Black Voters and Down Ballot Candidates

In our poll this week 87% of African Americans identified themselves as Democrats, and 84% said they supported Barack Obama.

The rest of the Democratic ticket? Not so much at this point:

Bev Perdue gets 72% of the black vote. Besides her almost everyone gets between 60-65% of the black vote, including Kay Hagan with 61%. Janet Cowell and Walter Dalton get even less at 55 and 49% respectively.

It's not that black voters are voting Republican for these offices- they just say they're undecided. But that brings up a real point- are all the folks coming out to vote for the first time this year just going to vote for Barack Obama, or will they vote the rest of the ballot as well? Down ballot Democratic candidates would do themselves well not just to assume that they will.

That means investing in robo calls and direct mail targeted at black voters, as well as advertising on black radio. The Perdue campaign did a tremendous job of this in the primary, and our polling indicated that she won by a large margin with supporters of Obama.

It also wouldn't hurt if the North Carolina Democratic Party could get Obama himself to record a couple robo calls to go out during early voting to black voters reminding them to make sure they vote the entire Democratic ticket.

I'm sure the down ballot candidates will do much better with black voters than the polling is showing right now, but best not to take them for granted.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Democrats not for Obama

One red flag for Barack Obama's prospects in North Carolina that came out of our poll this week was that only 69% of self identified Democrats in the state are committed to supporting him this fall.

In some states, like Ohio and Michigan, we've found that those Democrats fit the profile of Hillary Clinton supporters- middle aged white women. That's not the case in North Carolina though. It appears Obama's troubles are age old ones that Democratic candidates for federal office have had in North Carolina.

Only 27% of folks who participated in our poll were from eastern North Carolina. But 38% of the Democrats not for Obama were. The problem of white registered Democrats in the east voting Republican for President is a perpetual one that Obama's probably not going to be able to do anything about.

A lot of the Democrats not for Obama are also not for Kay Hagan. Elizabeth Dole has a 41-37 lead among them. But they are for Walter Dalton, Roy Cooper, Janet Cowell, Beth Wood, Elaine Marshall, and other Democrats. Just more evidence that this is the persistent problem of folks who identify as Democrats overall casting their ballot one way for who they send to Raleigh and another way for why they send to Washington.

While just 16% of the overall electorate is over the age of 65, 27% of the Democrats not for Obama in this poll are.

It's not racism. It's not Hillary. With these Democrats it's just the way they've voted for years. If Bill Clinton didn't flip enough of them to win the state Barack Obama's not going to, and that's why the key to victory for him here is not just record turnout from young and black voters, but obliterating past standards for voting participation from those groups.

It's a tall order- but Barack Obama has shown quite a propensity already this year for doing the unthinkable.

North Carolina: few voters up for grabs

As the Presidential election moves into its final couple months, John McCain and Barack Obama will be fighting over a group of voters that comprises only a little over 18% of the electorate in North Carolina.

PPP's most recent poll found 8% of voters in the state undecided. We also asked voters who expressed a preference whether they were firmly committed to their choice, or if there was a chance they could change their minds sometime between now and the election. Only 11% of respondents said there was any chance they would vote for the other candidate.

What are the demographics of this small sliver of the electorate the campaigns will be spending millions to court in the coming weeks?

In terms of age and gender the persuadables are no different than the rest of the electorate, although they are a lot whiter (86%), not a surprise given that most black voters are firmly committed to supporting Barack Obama.

Fully half of them list the economy as their biggest issue, and a lot fewer of them list the War in Iraq or moral and family values as their top concern than voters do in the population at large. That's a pretty clear indication that these folks are less concerned about things external to their daily lives and most fixed on what the candidates can do to improve their every day situations.

Overall they have a Democratic lean. They support Bev Perdue by nine points and Kay Hagan by seven points, both margins greater than their total leads.

Given their profile they would seem to tend more toward Obama than McCain- but whether Obama can convince them in the coming months that he has the skills and experience to truly turn the economy around could be the determiner for if he can secure their votes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Council of State Numbers


Beth Wood 40
Leslie Merritt 29

This is four times in a row the poll has shown Wood with a strong lead so I am well past thinking it could be a fluke. Unless Merritt runs an exceptional campaign he seems likely to lose his seat.

Lieutenant Governor:

Walter Dalton 32
Robert Pittenger 29
Phillip Rhodes 7

Dalton has led every poll since the primaries, although the race is always close.


Janet Cowell 36
Bill Daughtridge 34

Cowell takes the lead in the poll for the first time.

Insurance Commissioner:

Wayne Goodwin 34
John Odom 33
Mark McMains 8

This has been one of the closest races in the polls so far.


June Atkinson 39
Richard Morgan 34

Atkinson's leads have been steady if not overwhelming. Are Republicans unhappy with his tenure in the Legislature going to leave this one blank?

Labor Commissioner:

Cherie Berry 39
Mary Fant Donnan 36

This is likely to be one of the closest races in the fall, and if the new voters who come out for Barack Obama vote the rest of the ballot too that could end up putting Donnan over the top.

Agriculture Commissioner:

Steve Troxler 40
Ronnie Ansley 35

Troxler is in the strongest position of any Republican on the ticket.

Attorney General:

Roy Cooper 48
Bob Crumley 30

I saw a bunch of Crumley's 'non-campaign' ads last night watching the convention but it doesn't seem to be doing him any good.

Secretary of State:

Elaine Marshall 43
Jack Sawyer 32

Marshall, along with Cooper, looks to have the safest race this fall.

Full results here

A tale of two independent expenditures

The big story in both the races for Governor and Senate this month has been pretty much the same: a large independent expenditure attacking the Republican candidate.

That sort of thing should move the numbers strongly in the Democrat's direction, and in one of the races it has. Kay Hagan has gained an average of 8.3 points among the three polling companies that polled her race in both July and August.

That's not a surprise. The ads on her behalf have been focused and salient. Nothing is more important for an elected official than their effectiveness in their job, and the DSCC's campaign has gone right to the heart of that. Voters have a short attention span and running multiple ads on that same basic theme has done a good job of eroding Dole's support.

The independent expenditure by the Alliance for North Carolina, on the other hand, has not helped Bev Perdue's numbers at all. Where the DSCC ads are disciplined and on point the Alliance ads are all over the place.

The first ad, in a span of 15 seconds, told us not to like Pat McCrory because he opposed the minimum wage, because Charlotte elected officials got a pay raise, and because he opposed free community college tuition. The second ad reiterated the first two criticisms, then added in that he supported perks for politicians and accepted a free trip to Paris.

These ads are covering too much ground for any of the criticisms to stick with casual tv viewers, the kind of voters that the ads need to win over. Perhaps the biggest indication that the Alliance ads have been ineffective is that I had to go to youtube to watch them to even remember what they were about, even though I've seen them several times. No need to do that with the anti-Elizabeth Dole ads.

The first month of this ad campaign has fallen flat, so it's probably time for the Alliance to go back to the drawing board and head in a different direction for the next couple months. My suggestion would be to pick just one or maybe two more salient things to hit McCrory on than they have been, and then hammer that narrower message in with the voters over and over again. It's working for Kay Hagan and there's no reason it can't work for Bev Perdue too- but not without a change from the current direction.

NC Governor

Bev Perdue 43
Pat McCrory 38
Michael Munger 4

The polling in this race is largely static right now. Four companies- PPP, Civitas, SurveyUSA, and Rasmussen- surveyed the contest in both July and August. The average difference between last month's polls and this month's polls is a half point in Perdue's direction. Her lead is an average of four points over those companies' numbers, a clear lead for the Lieutenant Governor but also an indication that this race is far from over.

One notable thing in the numbers is that McCrory is still having difficulty getting much traction outside of the greater Charlotte area. He has a dominating 54-33 lead there, but trails in every other region of the state at this point. He managed to make it through the primary based largely on the strength of his home tv market performance but that formula is unlikely to work for him in the general.

Although Perdue is overall in fine shape right now, her lead probably ought to be larger after all the money that has been spent on her behalf this month. Analysis of that here.

Full results here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dole decides to run against IVR

Not surprisingly Elizabeth Dole's spokesman derides our poll today as a 'bunch of junk,' blaming it on IVR. That's the card her people always play when they want to complain about us because they know we have such an accurate record of polling in North Carolina that they can't point to any examples of us getting it wrong here to question our credibility.

It's interesting to note, however, that Dole released an internal poll at about the same time we released our early July numbers. They showed the race at 51-36 then, while we showed it at 51-37. Was our poll a bunch of junk then? I guess if it was then Dole's pollster must be a bunch of junk too.

You can choose your method of poll operation though- you'll find Dole tanking no matter what. Her lead dropped six points from Civitas' July poll to its August one, and Civitas was in the field before Kay Hagan started running her own ads introducing herself to the electorate which complement the negative ones about Dole.

Gidley's right though, there may be something flawed about our poll. We found Hagan with the support of just 61% of black voters at this point, a figure that realistically should be 80% at the least come November. Correct for that and Hagan's lead at this point is closer to the seven point range.

NC President: More of the Same

John McCain 45
Barack Obama 42
Bob Barr 4

For the second month in a row PPP shows Barack Obama trailing by three points in North Carolina.

One of two things is going to have to happen for Obama to win the state: he's going to have to up his share of the white vote, probably by bringing out voters under 30 in extreme record numbers, or he's going to need black voters to turn out at a rate disproportionate to their representation in the overall population, something that would be virtually unprecedented.

For now PPP projects black turnout at 21%, in line with the proportion of black registered voters in the state, and an increase from 18.6% in the 2004 Presidential election. Right now Obama is polling at 84% with the black vote, so although he has a little bit of room to move there it's not enough to win the state unless the black vote approaches 23 or 24% or if he improves with white voters.

With those white voters he currently trails 57-30. He probably needs to win about 36% of the white vote to take the state with a 21% black electorate, so he has a ways to go there but could make up some of that gap on college campuses around the state this fall.

Beyond that the race breaks out in a predictable manner. Obama leads with women and voters under 45, McCain has the advantage with men and older voters.

Full results here.

NC Senate: Hagan Leads

Kay Hagan 42
Elizabeth Dole 39
Chris Cole 5

What the DSCC is doing to Elizabeth Dole right now is the political equivalent of a punch in the gut from Muhammad Ali.

Kay Hagan has taken a narrow lead in North Carolina's Senate race after trailing by 14 points just two months ago.

There's not much doubt where the momentum is coming from. 69% of voters in the state have seen the television ads about Elizabeth Dole's #93 ranking for effectiveness in the US Senate, and among those folks Hagan has an even wider 45-39 lead. Dole's saving grace is voters who don't watch much tv- she leads 45-34 with those who have not seen the ad.

Hagan's movement is coming with two demographics that tend to be key to Republican success in the state- white and older voters. With white voters Hagan has halved a 55-35 deficit from last month to a 47-37 one. Among senior citizens she has pulled within 43-42 after trailing 57-33 in the previous poll.

One small note of concern for Hagan in the poll may be that while Dole has dropped 10 points after leading 49-40 last month, Hagan has only gained two points. A lot of the movement is into the undecided column. Hagan will need to do more to define herself positively in voters' minds as the race moves forward.

Elizabeth Dole has plenty of money and a lot of time to recover but this race has moved itself firmly into the tossup category over the last month, a designation that would have once seemed unthinkable.

Full results here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Virginia: Obama's path to victory

Looking at the race for the Presidency in Virginia by the numbers it's actually a pretty straight forward path to victory for Barack Obama- of course the execution is the hard part.

If blacks make up 20% of the electorate in the state as they make up 20% of the population, and Obama gets 90% of their votes he has 18%.

Assuming that another 5% of the electorate is other nonwhite voters, such as Asians and Hispanics, who tend to vote Democratic. If he gets 60% of those votes it's another 3%, pushing him up to 21%.

That leaves the white population at 75%, and Obama needing another 29% of the vote to get to 50%. If he gets 39% support from white voters he's there.

Right now John McCain leads 55-36 with white voters in the state so Obama would only need to get a third of undecided white voters to get to that magic 39%.

He'd probably do it if the election was today- but we've got another ten weeks left and who knows what will happen between now and November.

Virginia: few voters up for grabs

PPP analysis finds a Virginia electorate where the vast majority of voters really have their minds made up. Only 8% of voters in the poll were undecided. We also asked those who expressed support for McCain or Obama whether they might change their vote between now and November, or if they were firmly committed to their choice. Only 10% of those with a preference said they would consider switching sides. That accounts for 9.2% of respondents overall and that combined with the 8% undecided leaves about 17.2% of voters in the state 'persuadable' over the next two months.

Who are these voters that might determine the race in Virginia, and possibly the nation as a whole?

51% of them identify as independents, while 27% are Democrats and 22% are Republicans. This is significant because it's an indication that it's not disaffected Democratic Clinton supporters who could swing the election here, as seems to be the case in some other states.

They're overwhelmingly white (87%), disproportionately male (52%), and more representative of the oldest and youngest segments of the electorate than the population as a whole with 19% under 30 and 20% over 65.

One possible good sign for Barack Obama is that these folks support Mark Warner 63-12 over Jim Gilmore. Presidential candidates are supposed to have coattails for Senate candidates, but Warner's overwhelming popularity with these swing voters can only work to Obama's benefit.

It's likely to be a cliffhanger in Virginia.

Virginia President and Senate

Barack Obama 47
John McCain 45

Barack Obama has held a two point lead in all three of PPP's Virginia polls. He's not having as much of a problem here as he is in some other states with nailing down the Democratic vote- an 84-12 lead with voters in his own party is not too dissimilar from John McCain's 89-7. Independents are basically split with Obama leading 41-39.

Beyond that the race breaks down pretty much as you would expect. Obama leads by nine points with women while McCain leads by five points with men. Obama's up 57-34 with voters under 30, McCain's up 57-33 with those over 65. McCain has the 55-36 advantage with white voters but Obama gets 89% of black voters.

There are very few votes up for grabs in the state so this seems likely to be one state that goes right down to the wire with turnout operations playing a critical role in who tips the balance.

Full results here

Mark Warner 55
Jim Gilmore 32

Mark Warner continues to hold a dominant lead in the race to replace John Warner in the Senate. He leads with every demographic subgroup in the poll, and even holds Jim Gilmore below 70% with Republican voters in the survey.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Pat McCrory's campaign put out a press release toward the end of the week with this statement:
“Pat McCrory clearly has the momentum heading into the fall,” said McCrory Campaign Manager Richard Hudson.
This claim was based on two recent polls from Survey USA and Civitas. The former showed Bev Perdue expanding her lead by two points and the latter showed Pat McCrory cutting it by one. Not my idea of 'clear momentum' but to each his own.

Furthermore the McCrory campaign claimed 'Pat is beating the lieutenant governor in the two regions that know the candidates best -- Charlotte and Southeastern North Carolina.'

Actually, almost every poll I've ever seen has put Perdue's Craven County into the Northeastern North Carolina classification. It's in the Greenville/Washington/New Bern tv market rather than Wilmington. How's she doing in that geographic area? Civitas' latest has her up 52-29 there, we showed it at 53-31 last month.

There hasn't been any real good poll data for McCrory of late so I guess they just have to reach out and embrace whatever smidgen of good news they can get, but the claim to be leading in Perdue's home base is quite a stretch.

Joe Biden in North Carolina

Joe Biden was the speaker at the North Carolina Democratic Party's 2003 Vance-Aycock fundraiser and got this picture taken with the UNC Young Democrats. I'm in there somewhere!

He gave a rousing speech about foreign policy but I must admit the thing I remember more from the night is watching Don Zimmer brawl with the Red Sox in one of the hospitality suites.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Civitas Polls

Civitas has released its newest round of numbers this week and the big news is Kay Hagan continuing to move up on Elizabeth Dole. Hagan now just trails by three points, 44-41. This despite Hagan continuing to get less than 70% of the votes of self identified Democrats, a figure which can only improve.

Civitas was in the field from last Thursday to Sunday. We went into the field on Wednesday. The impact on the race's numbers of an extra week of the DSCC ad about Dole's effectiveness as well as Hagan's own ad campaign? We still have more folks to interview but there is a very good chance Hagan will be in the lead based on the first two days of this poll.

They show the race for Governor basically unchanged with Bev Perdue leading Pat McCrory 43-41. In our poll last month we showed most of the Democratic ticket in essentially the same position it had found itself in June, but with Perdue significantly expanding her lead. Usually if one of the candidates makes a leap and none of the rest in their party do it's because something real is happening, like in the Senate race. But it could have just been one of those occasional flukes of polling- we'll see next week.

One thing I found interesting in their poll was this test for the Supreme Court race where they asked the question both identifying and not identifying the candidates' parties. When they gave party labels in July 69% of respondents had a preference, with Democrat Suzanne Reynolds leading 36-33. When they took the party labels off in August just 26% picked one of the candidates with Reynolds still leading 14-12.

Civitas uses this to bolster an argument for partisan judicial elections and I don't necessarily disagree. Sometimes people in power over react to a single bad incident and make decisions without considering the fact that things will turn back around in the future. Case in point the move by legislative Democrats to go to nonpartisan judicial elections after the disastrous result of the 2002 contest.

Yeah that was a bad year for Democrats, but they lost a Court of Appeals seat in 2006 between Linda Stephens and Donna Stroud that they surely would have won if party labels had been on the ballot in that Democratic year. Democrats may sweep the Judicial elections this year anyway, but again, I think it would be a slam dunk with party labels on the ballot.

Changing the rules because of one really bad election year may have been short sighted- and party labels on the ballot does make it much easier for voters.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dole Falling Apart?

I would think one of the cardinal rules of politics is not to remind people of your flaws. That's why I'm amazed to see that Elizabeth Dole's new ad responding to the DSCC's ads about her #93 effectiveness ranking devotes its first four seconds to repeating that unfortunate little fact about herself! Don't spend your own money to remind people about an ad that's doing you a lot of damage.

The rest of her new ad is a series of weak and unsupported platitudes about various supposed accomplishments and some 'Best of Congress' award that 50 members of Congress applied to win and that 24 received. Not the most impressive honor.

I'll admit up until a couple weeks ago I didn't really think Kay Hagan had any chance at this. But the DSCC's campaign on her behalf has been brilliant, and I'm frankly amazed at the numbers we've seen the first two days of our tracking poll- we'll probably release the North Carolina Senate numbers Tuesday.

Elizabeth Dole is in real bad shape. Hard to believe.


It's easy for folks involved in politics to get sucked up in it and forget how little most of the population cares or pays attention.

This post inspired by the person in Raleigh who just got to our blog by googling 'who is Bev Perdue running against.'

If you wonder why vapid 30 second television ads are the best form of campaign communication, there's your answer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Absurd Attack

Pat McCrory's campaign is apparently claiming that the fact that Bev Perdue is doing a heavy media buy in Charlotte while the Alliance for North Carolina is not is a sign of malfeasance and coordination between the two entities.

Ridiculous. This is just good political sense:

-One of the things holding Perdue back from a dominating lead in the statewide polls is that many Democrats in the Charlotte area know and like McCrory and are open to voting for him this fall. In our last poll 38% of white Democrats in the 704 area code said they support McCrory. That is the most important area of the state for Perdue to introduce herself to folks who if the Republicans had nominated someone else would definitely be voting for her. If she can convince those voters to stick with the party she's a slam dunk so it makes all the sense in the world to make a significant investment there.

-Second, I'm guessing the reason the Alliance for North Carolina is not running ads in Charlotte at this point is a return on investment one, not because the Perdue campaign said 'we have it covered.' Charlotte and Asheville's tv markets bleed heavily into South Carolina so there is not as much bang for your buck doing media in them as there is in the rest of the state. It is common for campaigns and political organizations to hold off advertising there for that reason- for instance, both Perdue and Richard Moore's campaigns did not begin advertising in those places until well after they were advertising in the rest of the state during the primary. I'm sure the Alliance for North Carolina is just using the same calculus plenty of other folks have used in the past when it comes to tv advertising.

This is obviously just another attempt by the McCrory campaign to play up this corrupt Raleigh Democrats card, but as we learned last month, it's the Republicans in Washington that North Carolinians associate with corruption.

Missouri: Senate 2010

Kit Bond 44
Dick Gephardt 43

Kit Bond 46
Russ Carnahan 43

Bond Approval:

Approve 44
Disapprove 43

At 44% Kit Bond's job approval is actually a good deal better than what PPP is finding for a lot of Republican Senators right now. But he could still be up for a strong challenge in 2010 depending on who chooses to run against him. Last month we found that Robin Carnahan could give him a strong run for his money, and our poll this time shows that both her brother, Russ Carnahan, and his predecessor in Congress, Dick Gephardt, could keep the race within the margin of error in 2010.

Whether Bond decides to run for reelection in 2010 or not the Democrats appear to have candidates to choose from who could make the strongest run their party has for this seat in quite a while.

Full results here

Missouri: Governor and other statewide offices


Jay Nixon 48
Kenny Hulshof 42

Nixon's lead over Hulshof is down four points from the ten point advantage he showed in PPP's July poll. This is not particularly surprising given that Hulshof has been much more in the spotlight over the last six weeks because of his highly competitive primary. This is not a bad place for Nixon to be.

Lieutenant Governor:

Peter Kinder 48
Sam Page 37

Secretary of State:

Robin Carnahan 49
Mitch Hubbard 39

Both of the statewide incumbents running to keep their seats appear to be in a solid position.


Brad Lager 41
Clint Zweifel 36

Attorney General:

Chris Koster 42
Mike Gibbons 39

Both of the open statewide offices look to be competitive.

Full results here.

Missouri: McCain expands lead

John McCain 50
Barack Obama 40

John McCain has significantly expanded his lead in Missouri, turning a three point lead in last month's poll into a ten point one now.

The key to McCain's rise is nearly doubling his lead among white voters. He now has a 56-35 advantage with them, up from 50-39 in July. Obama is still dominating among black voters but it's nearly impossible for him to win in Missouri without keeping his deficit with whites in single digits.

As he is in many states McCain is doing a better job of keeping voters in his party with him than Obama is. He is up 87-9 among Republicans while Obama has a smaller 78-15 lead with Democrats.

Full results here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ohio: who are the undecideds?

The Ohio poll we released the other day showed 10% of respondents undecided. Here's their profile:

-31% are Democrats, 11% are Republicans, and 57% are independents.
-56% are women and 44% are men, pretty much in line with the electorate as a whole
-93% are white, 2% are black, and 5% are other races, much whiter than the population in general.
-Just 9% are under 30, while 25% are over 65 meaning that the undecideds skew old. Those figures are 15% and 18% for the whole poll.
-60% of them list their top issue as the economy, compared to 49% in general.

Because of the significant Democratic id advantage Obama should have the upper hand with these voters, but it shows he has work to do winning over older white Democratic voters. Given the disproportionate concern for the economy among these folks, convincing them that he's the one who can turn things around will be key to Obama's chances in Ohio.

The convention next week could also be vital to getting these voters to stay in the party for their Presidential vote this fall.

More of those dueling internals

Robin Hayes put out a poll last week claiming to be leading by ten points over Larry Kissell. In June Kissell's campaign put out a poll saying they were leading by two. Who to believe?

There was a similar situation to this during the primary out east between Walter Jones and Joe McLaughlin. McLaughlin put out a poll claiming to be trailing by just two points, while Jones claimed at the same time to be leading by 38.

I said at the time, joking, that the best way to deal with the polls was simply to average them. That would have given Jones a 20 point lead. I was being sarcastic, but guess what- Jones won by 18 points, almost equivalent to the mean of the internals.

Using that methodology here Hayes leads by 4, a result perhaps not coincidentally quite similar to the six point lead we found for Hayes when we polled the race independently last month.

That's not a great place to be standing for a ten year incumbent whose challenger is going to get the resources he needs to run the strongest campaign possible this year.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ohio Senate 2010: More Voinovich Vulnerability

PPP's third monthly look at Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich's standing with the state's voters continues to show him incredibly vulnerable if he chooses to run for reelection in 2010. Just 30% approve of his job performance, and even among folks in his own party he enjoys just a 37% approval rating.

In possible 2010 match ups Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher has a 40-38 advantage over Voinovich, while Voinovich leads Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson 42-32.

Fisher and Jackson were tested as possibilities based on suggestions made by PPP blog readers on this thread.

In July PPP found Voinovich would trail Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and narrowly lead Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman. In June PPP saw a tie between Voinovich and Congressman Tim Ryan and a narrow lead over Congresswoman Betty Sutton.

The polling results of the last three months make it clear there are a number of Democrats who could make credible runs for this seat in two years. Whether Voinovich decides to retire or not Ohio figures to be a key Senate battleground in the next election.

Full results here.

McCain pulls even in Ohio

Barack Obama 45
John McCain 45

John McCain has pulled even in Ohio, after trailing in PPP's June and July polls of the state. He and Barack Obama are each at 45%, with 10% of Ohio voters reporting as undecided.

Party unity is an issue for Obama in the Buckeye State. While McCain has an 89-7 lead with voters who identify as Republicans, Obama has a narrower 75-17 edge with Democrats. Delving deeper into the numbers, it appears that residual unhappiness from Hillary Clinton supporters could be the cause. The 25% of Democrats who currently either support McCain or are undecided are disproportionately middle aged, white, and female or in other words prototypical Clinton voters. Ohio is one state where some joint appearances of the former Democratic foes might do the nominee some good.

Obama is able to keep the race tied overall due to a 45-28 lead with independents voters. Beyond that the crosstabs come out as one might expect- Obama leads with women, voters under 45, and African Americans while McCain has the edge with men, older voters, and whites.

It appears Ohio will once again be among the most highly contested states this fall.

Full results here.

NC and the Bradley Effect

At about the eight minute mark of this week's Headline Saturday David Crabtree said he recently spoke to a pollster who said that like in previous cycles with major black candidates on the ballot Barack Obama would end up under performing the polls because people, concerned about seeming racist, would lie to pollsters about their true voting intent.

I think we've already seen evidence this year that will not be the case in North Carolina. The average of surveys from various groups that polled in the Democratic primary for the state showed Obama defeating Clinton by an average of 7.3 points. Of course he ended up winning by 14 points, actually out performing the polling in the state by 6.7%.

The reason Obama did so much better than the numbers anticipated is that pollsters underestimated both the composition of black and young voters within the electorate, as well as the extent to which they would support Obama.

I don't see any reason that would be different in the general election. Most polling, including ours, is taking a conservative approach so far to forecasting turnout from the groups that support Obama at the highest levels.

Beyond that, I also think that voters in a Democratic primary are more likely to feel bad and lie to a pollster about their intent to vote for the black candidate than voters in the general election.

If anything I believe the polls are more likely to once again undersell Obama's performance in the state than they are to produce a Bradley or Wilder effect.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New York Times on North Carolina

Sunday's New York Times has an in depth look at Barack Obama's chances of taking North Carolina.

Several pieces of PPP analysis made it into the story- here is the look we took at what percentage of the electorate black voters might need to comprise for Obama to win, and here's how we arrived at the estimate that John Kerry received about 32% of the white vote in the state rather than the 27% that the state's exit poll reported.

Marc Farinella, Obama's state director, argues that migration to the state is a trend favoring Democrats. We did a poll last month that showed some evidence in that direction.

It's a good story, check it out. Kit Seelye had the best handle on polling of about any reporter I've ever spoken to.

Kerry's White Vote in NC

The 2004 North Carolina exit poll said that John Kerry got just 27% of the white vote. But as we've written before that survey also supposed African Americans were 26% of the electorate in the state when they were actually 19%. That means Kerry actually did much better with white voters than the exit poll indicated.

The non-white vote was about 21%. Assuming Kerry got about 85% of that, it accounts for 18% out of the total 44% he received in the state.

That means he derived his other 26% from the 79% of white voters in the state. That would put his share of the white vote somewhere in the 32-33% range.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rasmussen's Wednesday Night Poll

There's some discussion here and here about Rasmussen's new North Carolina poll, conducted entirely on Wednesday night, and whether that could have skewed the results in a Democratic direction because those who go to church that night are more likely to be Republicans.

I doubt it for two reasons:

The first is that Rasmussen, unlike PPP and Survey USA, weights for party identification. So no matter when they do their poll, it's going to have the same distribution of Democrats and Republicans that it would at any other time.

The second is that I just haven't seen much evidence that Wednesday night polling really does skew in a Democratic direction. The last time I paid careful attention to it was when we did a South Carolina poll in July. I started it Wednesday night and Obama got hammered. The subsequent polling was much better for him. So that particular time McCain actually polled at a higher percentage when his base was supposedly at church than when it wasn't.

The real story in NC polling right now is that Bev Perdue has on average a five point bigger lead in August than she did in Rasmussen, PPP, and SurveyUSA's July polls, and Kay Hagan has pulled an average of six points closer to Elizabeth Dole in PPP and Survey USA's most recent surveys than she was in the ones before.

Rasmussen sees the Perdue surge

A new Rasmussen poll out this morning shows that maybe our numbers on the Governor's race two weeks ago weren't crazy- they show Bev Perdue expanding her lead over Pat McCrory to 49-43, or 51-45 with leaners. She had been up just a single point in their previous survey, conducted in June. Civitas will have new numbers on the race I believe next week and we will the week after that.

Regardless of the magnitude there's clearly movement in Perdue's direction right now. PPP saw an eight point gain for her from its last poll, Rasmussen found it at five, and Survey USA found it at two for an average five point gain.

The Presidential race shows the same basic pattern of all recent polling with John McCain leading by four points, or six points with leaners. The leaner number does give McCain the largest lead he has seen in North Carolina since Barack Obama wrapped up the nomination.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

PPP, Rasmussen, and Colorado

Three days ago we said Barack Obama was up four in Colorado. Today Rasmussen says John McCain is up a point. I don't know who's right but I can tell you one reason for the difference in our polls.

Rasmussen's numbers are based on 500 interviews conducted Wednesday night.

We did 500 interviews last Tuesday night in Colorado, and based on those McCain was up by a point as well. But we also called everyone in the sample who we didn't reach Tuesday night again Wednesday morning, Wednesday afternoon, Wednesday night, and Thursday afternoon. We got almost another 500 respondents and they went for Obama by a good amount, pushing him to a four point lead.

As far as I can tell Rasmussen just makes calls until they get 500 respondents. When we buy a sample we attempt to reach every number in it at least four times over a period of several days and go with whatever number of respondents we get based on that. And we almost always find that the further into conducting the poll we go, the better Obama does. I don't know if it's that his supporters are harder to get on the line or what, but we're finding that trend in nearly every state we poll.

I'm not saying that one way or another is better- Rasmussen has an outstanding track record- just pointing out that differences in the way we conduct our polls may help explain some of the differences in the numbers we produce. It's not as simple as just saying Rasmussen is Republican and PPP is Democratic.

Jumping the Gun

Going on the air now if he can't stay on straight through the election is a mistake for Pat McCrory.

He need look no further than several examples already in this cycle:

-Elizabeth Dole made a large ad buy in June, and it did improve her numbers significantly. But after a month off her numbers are right back where they were before. It didn't have any long term impact for her and now that money's gone.

-Richard Moore went on more than three months prior to the primary, but then had to go off for a while. During that period Bev Perdue stayed on. Her lead expanded into the 20s in both PPP and Survey USA's polls.

Going on for the next ten days may give McCrory a temporary boost. In fact if Perdue stays off during that period I wouldn't even be shocked if McCrory is tied or has a small lead in our next poll.

But this $150,000 expenditure reflects more than 20% of McCrory's COH through the end of June. Surely he's raised a lot more money since then but that doesn't change the fact that he's at a significant fundraising deficit relative to her. When October comes around and Perdue's spending him out of the water, whatever bonus he gets from this Olympic media buy is going to be long forgotten.

I think he would have been better off saving the money for the stretch run. But campaigns get panicky and that's just part of the game.

By the way, the gold medal for spending discipline this year goes to Janet Cowell. David Young went on tv a few weeks earlier than her in April and took the lead after Cowell had held it since the field was settled. Cowell held back and did a lot of media the last week, and coasted to a victory with a healthy margin.

DSCC on point

Nothing drives me more crazy than when a campaign runs a series of seemingly disconnected attack ads on its opponent without any overall theme or message. Voters just don't pay enough attention to absorb those one shot attacks unless it's on something that's devastatingly effective. Richard Moore's campaign against Bev Perdue in the spring is a good example of this- one week she was corrupt, the next week she was racist, and ultimately it seemed the voters just decided he was petty.

The DSCC is not falling into that trap in its efforts against Elizabeth Dole. Their early message is that she hasn't been effective in Washington, and both their ads have reflected that. There's already some indication that Dole's numbers are being driven down, and I think the newest ad is an outstanding one. Sinister voice over ads have their place, but I like the creativity and humor in this one and think it's a lot more likely to catch the attention of viewers because it doesn't look like a campaign ad. That's a sure fire way to cut through the glut.

Dole's effectiveness is a good issue to get her on and so far the campaign has been well executed. There should be at least three new polls on this race in the next week and a half (with ours going into the field the latest) and it will certainly be interested to see how much of an impact this stuff continues to have.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

SurveyUSA: Hagan on the move

SurveyUSA has its newest numbers for North Carolina out and the big story is Kay Hagan moving up considerably against Elizabeth Dole. Dole's lead is now just 46-41 after being 54-42 in SUSA's previous survey.

The negative ads on Dole's effectiveness must be making a difference, and this is another indication that Dole's June tv buy may have been a little panicky and of low long term impact. Full results here.

The numbers for President are ho hum, more of the same, like pretty much all North Carolina polling since Barack Obama became the presumptive nominee. John McCain leads 49-45. Obama still has work to do nailing his party down, as McCain receives the support of 25% of self identified Democrats. Full results here.

I was most curious with this poll to see whether Survey USA would find Bev Perdue making the same large gain she did in our poll a few weeks ago but for now they show her lead just increasing from one point to three. One reason we showed Perdue with such a big advantage the other week is that she was doing better with Democrats than Pat McCrory was with Republicans but this has McCrory up 82-13 with his party while Perdue leads just 73-19 with hers. I'll be interested to see Civitas' numbers in the near future, and we'll be back in the field in North Carolina next week. Full results here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hillary Spammers

PPP has received two e-mails today, both blind carbon copied, asking us to start polling Hillary Clinton against John McCain to show that she is the stronger candidate than Barack Obama. They say this will show she should be nominated at the convention.

Does anyone know who's behind this? They're pasted below:

From: TIL []
Sent: Tue 8/12/2008 7:06 PM
To: self

Dear Pollster,

Since Barack Obama has been performing weakly in the polls against John McCain, and also considering the fact that almost two-thirds of
Americans want a Democrat for president, I ask you to please place
Hillary Clinton's name in your presidential polls from now until at
least the convention.

As neither of the two Democratic candidates have the minimum delegate numbers, there is currently still no certified
nominee. It is not too late for the party to re-evaluate (or validate)
their choice with a viable comparison. Perhaps it is time for the pulse
of the American people to be taken again?

Hillary was way ahead of McCain when the polls were done soon after she suspended her campaign.

It would also be of great interest to know how Hillary still polls versus the other Democratic candidate and John McCain in important big states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter. I remain,

Sincerely yours,

Teresa Lim

From: Jessi []
Sent: Tue 8/12/2008 1:47 PM
Subject: Polling on Sen. Clinton...

I've read all your latest polls on Barack Obama vs. John McCain, Would you consider doing some polling as to what would happen if Sen. Clinton were the nominee against McCain? After all, there is no democratic nominee yet, only a presumptive nominee.

Thanks! it would be very interesting.

Jessi LC

Colorado: Undecideds

With the race for President in Colorado close, it seems worth taking a look at who the undecided voters in the state are at this point:

-They are mostly independents (54%) with some Republicans (27%) and Democrats (18%) sprinkled in. This may seem like a no brainer but it shows that the possible trends of Democrats who supported Hillary not picking Obama and disaffected conservatives not choosing McCain are not really in play here.

-Demographically they are more female, more Hispanic, and younger than the population at large. 60% of them are female compared to 53% overall, 28% are Hispanic compared to 15% overall, and just 11% are over 65 while 19% are under 30 compared to 15% for both of those groups as a whole.

-It's hard to discern much about their general political leanings from their responses to other questions on the survey. They support Bob Schaffer over Mark Udall by a small amount, but they also give Ken Salazar a higher net approval rating than he gets with the general population.

The bottom line: these are all demographics favorable to Barack Obama, but he will need to convince these folks to choose him. The Hispanic vote, both who gets it and how much of it there is, could well decide who wins Colorado. Obama has a solid advantage there right now, but he also has a lot of room to improve.

Keep in mind of course that this analysis is based on the 75 respondents who reported as undecided for President in the survey, so not a huge sample owing to the fact that most voters have made a choice already.

State of the Senate race

I've had several people ask me: 'Why is the DSCC spending so much money on Kay Hagan? Isn't Elizabeth Dole unbeatable?'

They're saying that because Dole is up by a good amount in the polls right now. But what they're forgetting is that she only regained her solid standing after a large and very early media buy during the month of June. Before that Hagan had cut the lead to less than five points in most polls.

You might think her poll numbers in early May, coming right off of an active primary campaign, could have been the peak for Hagan. But remember that Elizabeth Dole was not getting bloodied up at all then- Hagan moved up based entirely on a campaign that accentuated her positives.

There are plenty of good lines of attack on Dole, and I think the early ad talking about her #93 effectiveness ranking was one of the better on air efforts of the political season. Now Hagan's up, a good three months before the election.

It's pretty darn unusual to knock off an incumbent without running a strong negative campaign, and third parties are starting to do that on her behalf. Given that Hagan showed she could be competitive with Dole in May polls even before the heat was turned up on her opponent, I think the DSCC's investment is a wise one.

Another thing I've heard: 'well sure there will be negative ads against Dole, but won't there be against Hagan too?' There probably will be, but when you have the name recognition gap Hagan does relative to Dole I think this is a case where really all publicity will be good publicity for the challenger.

Should be interesting to watch...there's enough going on that I'm ready for us to go back to weekly NC tracking polls! But we will probably wait until September for that.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Colorado Senate 2010

Ken Salazar Approval:

Approve 39
Disapprove 36

Salazar 49
Tom Tancredo 37

Salazar 46
Mike Coffman 38

Ken Salazar's approval rating continues to languish below 40%, but he does pretty well in match ups against possible 2010 foes Tom Tancredo and Mike Coffman.

Tancredo has been the most open about possibly running in 2010, but he will have some hurdles to climb. He only leads Salazar 66-19 among GOP voters, an indication that he may be a little far out even for some members of his own party. And not surprisingly given his outspokenness on immigration he has a 67-21 gap against Salazar among Hispanics, a voting block that becomes more and more important with each passing Colorado election.

Last month PPP looked at how Salazar might do against Bill Owens and John Elway.

Full results here.

Colorado Senate

Mark Udall 47
Bob Schaffer 41

There has been a narrowing trend in this race's polling over the last month or so, and this survey continues that. Although Udall still has a solid lead, it is down from nine points in PPP's poll of the state last month.

The movement in the race over the last month seems to have been among white voters, with what had been a seven point lead for Udall with that group turning into a tie.

Full results here.

Colorado President

Barack Obama 48
John McCain 44

Barack Obama maintains the same four point lead he showed in PPP's July poll of Colorado.

The key for Obama is that he has held McCain to a one or two point lead among white voters in each of the polls. If he is able to do that in November he will take the state easily because of his dominance with the state's Hispanic voters, with whom he leads 51-36.

Colorado is not a state where Obama is having more trouble holding Democratic voters in the fold than McCain is with Republicans. They each get 84-85% of their party's own support, with Obama holding a 50-35 advantage with independents.

Obama has the edge with every age group except senior citizens.

Full results here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ohio and Missouri Senate 2010

I am taking my first vacation time in over a year (thank you extended primary!) for the rest of the week so we're just going to have one public poll out, in Colorado, Monday or Tuesday next week.

We're going in the field in Ohio and Missouri probably Wednesday for releases the week of the 18th and I would appreciate any input you might have as we continue to look at possible 2010 Senate match ups.

Our Ohio June poll found Tim Ryan tied and Betty Sutton just behind George Voinovich, while our July poll found Jennifer Brunner leading and Mike Coleman narrowly trailing Voinovich. Who would be your picks for our next duo to test?

In Missouri we found Robin Carnahan narrowly trailing Kit Bond with Susan Montee further behind in July, and I'm open to your suggestions on who we should look at this time around.

Our Colorado poll will have some 2010 Senate goodness, with a look at how Congressman Tom Tancredo and Secretary of State Mike Coffman match up with Ken Salazar.

I'm headed to Phoenix first thing in the morning to see my beloved but moribund Braves probably get slaughtered by the D-Backs and will likely do little or no blogging between now and Monday. Hope to come back to some good suggestions for our next round of polls!

Crossover Voters

One thing that could be a problem for both Barack Obama and Pat McCrory as they try to succeed in North Carolina this year is folks in their parties crossing party lines to vote for their opponents.

Typically Republican candidates get a higher percentage of the vote from folks who identify with their party than Democratic candidates do- and that's a virtual necessity in a state where Democrats have a significant registration advantage. But our most recent poll found McCrory leading just 72-12 with Republicans while Perdue leads 76-12 with Democrats. It's not a big difference but still one that makes it close to impossible for McCrory to succeed unless he changes it.

So who are these Republicans for Perdue? They're disproportionately middle aged, urban women. In addition to supporting Perdue they're also going for Beth Wood, June Atkinson, and Elaine Marshall. At the same time they support Elizabeth Dole over Kay Hagan and Cherie Berry over Mary Fant Donnan overwhelmingly. So it appears this crop of Republican voters is choosing gender first, then using party as the tie breaker. It certainly helps to explain the success of female candidates in the state.

How about the Democrats for McCain? They don't fit the profile of former Hillary supporters, the way crossover voters have in other states like Florida and Michigan. They are white men, disproportionately senior citizens. Obama's race is probably not the issue for them because while they identify as Democrats they are voting Republican in almost every race with the exception of their support for Walter Dalton, Roy Cooper, and Elaine Marshall. These are the folks who are registered 'D' either because they have been since the 1960s and 70s, or because their parents were before them but don't tend to actually vote Democratic.

Folks often wonder why a state with a 12 point Democratic registration advantage isn't more supportive of Democratic candidates, particularly at the federal level. Those folks are the reason why.

Florida Senate 2010

Mel Martinez Approval:

Approve 24
Disapprove 40

Bob Graham 51
Martinez 31

Debbie Wasserman Schultz 38
Martinez 37

PPP continues to find Republican Senator Mel Martinez with a paltry approval rating and a bad showing when matched up with possible opponents in 2010.

It appears former Senator Bob Graham would be a virtual shoo in if he was interested in reclaiming his old seat. It's not as crazy as it might sound. Barry Goldwater successfully returned to the US Senate four years after his losing campaign for the Presidency in 1964, and New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg was four years older in 2002 than Graham will be in 2010 when Lautenberg decided to return after retiring in 2000.

Graham leads with pretty much every demographic subgroup and holds Martinez to 56% even with Republican voters while holding a 58-20 lead with independents.

Wasserman Schultz leads Martinez despite never having run for statewide office.

Last month PPP found Martinez trailing CFO Alex Sink and tied with Congressman Robert Wexler in possible match ups. Based on his approval ratings and these head to head numbers Martinez figures to be the #1 target for Senate Democrats in 2010.

Full results here.

Florida President

John McCain 47
Barack Obama 44

John McCain has retaken the lead in Florida after trailing Barack Obama by a small margin last month. The candidates split the independent vote, while McCain receives 84% support from Republicans and Obama gets 76% support from Democrats. The Democrats crossing over to support McCain are disproportionately older white females, an indication that Hillary Clinton's base may not be completely behind Obama in the Sunshine State.

Obama has slipped with Hispanic voters in the last month, leading among them just 48-45 after holding a 51-37 advantage in PPP's previous Florida poll. The numbers show an unusual gender gap, with McCain leading by 11 points among women while trailing by 5 points with men. Last month's results similarly showed Obama doing eight points better with men than women, a trend PPP has not seen in any of its other state by state polling.

Obama has a large lead among young voters, McCain has a big one with senior citizens, and the candidates are virtually tied with those in between.

Full results here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Governor's Race and Debates

Every time something happens in the Governor's race that Pat McCrory doesn't like it seems like his response is to challenge Bev Perdue to have more debates.

Maybe he should ask Richard Moore how playing that card over and over again worked.

As Perdue's campaign has pointed out, she has already agreed to participate in more debates than the Presidential candidates are having. McCrory says the voters need debates so that they can see where the candidates stand on the issues, but isn't debating about debates as big a distraction from the issues as you could possible have?

Seems like a silly distraction to me, and one of little relevance to most voters.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Auditor's Race

I heard from half a dozen people with their theories about why Beth Wood is significantly out polling Les Merritt but the most plausible came from one of the wisest veterans of North Carolina politics: a Democratic woman is going to beat a Republican man.

There's a lot of validity to that. Democrats lead in 4 of 5 Council of State races where they've nominated a woman running against a man, and I imagine Janet Cowell is going to end up winning this fall as well. In the 5 races that don't fit that description Democrats have the advantage in only 2.

It just is not plausible that a significant mass of voters are choosing against Merritt because of his job performance. Given that Civitas recently found less than half of the state's likely voters know who controls the Legislature, I'm guessing even less know who the Auditor is, and even less beyond that have an opinion about his job performance one way or the other.

At the end of the day the why doesn't matter all that much- at this point Beth Wood is the clear favorite to beat the incumbent.

Obama's Current NC Tipping Point

Whether Barack Obama can win North Carolina or not will have a lot to do with what percentage of the electorate this fall is composed of African Americans. The most recent census estimate shows blacks at a little under 22% of the population, but in 2004 they made up just 18.5% of the state's voting population.

If blacks don't turn out at a higher rate relative to the rest of the population than they did in 2004, Obama has no chance. On the other hand, if they vote at a higher rate than the white population and push the black composition of the electorate up over 22% this year, Obama could even be favored in North Carolina.

Using our latest poll, here's how the contest in North Carolina would look weighting the African American vote to be anywhere from 18 to 23%:

Black % of Electorate





















At this point anyway it looks like 23% could be the North Carolina tipping point.

Arizona likes its politicians

Over the last two months PPP has done approval ratings for a variety of Governors and Senators across the country and hasn't found a single one over 50%. Politicians are not particularly popular right now.

Arizona is the exception though. We found Governor Janet Napolitano with a 54% approval rating and Senator John McCain with 53% approval.

We also did a test to see how the two might fare against each other in a possible 2010 Senate match up. McCain leads Napolitano 50-43, not particularly surprising given the volume of media attention he's received this year.

Full results here.

Arizona President

John McCain 52
Barack Obama 40

There's been a lot of talk the last week that Arizona could be closer than expected this fall, but PPP's newest survey in the state shows John McCain holding a solid lead.

There are a few things helping McCain to do well in his home state. He trails Barack Obama only 48-40 among Latino voters, a performance much better than national polling is showing with that demographic. He's also getting more crossover support than Obama, with 16% of the Democratic vote, while holding almost everyone in his own party, earning 87% of the Republican vote.

There's not much of a gender gap, with McCain holding solid leads with both men and women. He leads every group except the 18-29 demographic.

With many traditionally GOP states like Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Montana to name a few looking more winnable for Obama than Arizona this may be a state not worth putting much effort into.

Full results here.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wrapping Up the Week/Coming Attractions

-Chris Hayes from Civitas and I cordially discussed our latest polling numbers with Kim Genardo on NBC 17. It's from about the 3:30 to 10:00 mark here.

-Tara Servatius from WBT and I discussed how the last few weeks of the campaign have not been great for Pat McCrory here.

Coming this week:

-We'll have new numbers in Arizona. There's been a lot of speculation this week that the race could be tight there but I don't know about that.

-We'll also release our new Florida poll, including a look at how Bob Graham and Debbie Wasserman Schultz might match up with Mel Martinez in 2010.
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