The presidential race in North Carolina is not the only contest we polled likely voters on. But gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton probably wishes it were.
If the election were held today, Republican Pat McCrory swamps Democrat Dalton among likely voters 52% to 37%. Much of that is name recognition. McCrory, who ran for governor four years ago, has it. Lt. Gov. Dalton doesn’t, at least not yet.
Dalton told the Charlotte Observer that he isn’t worried. “We have plenty of time left; people really have not focused on the race,” he said. “I really don’t go crazy about the polls right now.”
That’s probably a good thing. The conservative-leaning Civitas Poll has McCrory leading with unaffiliated voters, 46% to 29%. The Democratic-leaning PPP has it McCrory 45%-39%.
— John Robinson
The most obvious conclusion from the Elon University Poll on the gubernatorial race? It hasn’t really started yet.
The leading GOP candidate, Pat McCrory? Half of the respondents don’t know enough to have an opinion of him.
The Democrats? Bob Etheridge, who is probably the best known candidate, given his years as State Superintendent of Public Instruction and in Congress, gets 60% on the “don’t know” meter. Sixty-eight percent don’t know enough about Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, and 77% don’t know enough about State Rep. Bill Faison.
It’s no wonder that McCrory isn’t campaigning much. There’s no reason as he’s headed to an easy primary win and should keep his powder dry — and money saved — until after Labor Day.
But the Democrats? Yikes! A week before the poll was in the field, the Democratic candidates debated the issues and each other three times. The debates were televised. Presumably their names were fresh on voters’ minds. Seemingly few of the 640 people we polled watched or were able to draw conclusions about the candidates. Primary Day is a week away and a majority of the population doesn’t know enough about any of the Democratic candidates to have an opinion. Scary. Let’s hope that those who actually show up to vote have an idea.
Interestingly, 57% of respondents told us that they are following the primary closely. Presumably they meant the presidential primary.
— John Robinson
There is only one conclusion to draw from the latest Elon University Poll on the governor’s race: North Carolinians are not engaged. At all. Seriously.
But wait! Don’t stop reading. There’s a quiz at the end of this post.
Back to the governor’s race. Respondents were asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of each of 11 candidates. For each candidate, at least half of the people said they didn’t know or were unable to judge.
People aren’t tuned into the race yet, but that’s OK. The candidates aren’t either. Thank Gov. Bev Perdue for that. When she made the surprise announcement in January that she was not going to seek re-election, she more than stirred the political pot — she flipped it over, and it hasn’t been righted yet.
Republican Pat McCrory ran a statewide campaign in 2008 when he lost to Purdue by 3 percentage points and was endorsed by the newspapers in Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham and Asheville. In the Elon Poll, he is viewed most favorably — 33%. Fifty-four percent said they didn’t know him well enough to judge.
Among Democrats, Bob Etheridge, who served in Congress 14 years and was State Superintendent of Public Instruction for 8 years before that, is viewed favorably by 16%. Sixty-eight percent said they didn’t know him well enough.
Here’s the most interesting observation: It says something about the position of lieutenant governor when 80% of the respondents said they are “unable to judge” or “don’t know” enough about the man in the job to have an opinion about him. Do you know who he is?
— John Robinson
Listen up, N.C. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger:
The people of North Carolina are not happy with the way the General Assembly is doing business. Not. Happy. At. All.
In the latest Elon University Poll, 53% of North Carolinians said they disapprove of how you are doing your job. Only 27% said they like it. To demonstrate how dramatically you’ve declined in the eyes of your fellow citizens, in response to the same question 11 months ago, 41% disapproved of you and 39% approved.
It’s probably not surprising. After years of Democratic control, both the Senate and the House went over to the Republicans in November 2010. People said the wanted change, and the GOP took them at their word. The legislature grappled with the governor over the budget, over taxes, over education. They slashed costs, which also meant they cut programs that many people liked. They held barely-announced post-midnight sessions to push bills through. They put the same-sex marriage ban amendment on the ballot. In Guilford County, they pushed through a county commissioner redistricting that left 43,000 residents without representation on the board of commissioners. And when confronted with the issue, chose to ignore it.
Who knows how this will play out in the May primary or November general election. But as Mark Binker of the News & Record reported last week, Statewide, 31 of 50 Senate races are contested. Republicans are virtually guaranteed to win 11 seats because there is no Democrat filed. Democrats have a similar guarantee in 8 districts because there is no Republican.
— John Robinson