Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Poll finds McCrory leading Perdue, other Dems

Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory ought to be feeling pretty good about his chances in the 2012 governor's race. McCrory lost to Gov. Bev Perdue in 2008, but in current polling matchups with Perdue or any of three other potential contenders for the Democratic nomination, McCrory still is in the lead.

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm that has tracked Perdue's weak popularity numbers since taking office, says regardless of whether it's Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton or state Sen. Dan Blue, McCrory  leads from the outset.  The upshot is that Democrats have a lot of overcoming to do in the next year, though after the legislative session things may look a bit different and Perdue may be in much better shape to capture a second term. For Republicans, the question is whether rank-and-file GOP members will coalesce enthusiastically behind McCrory. If they do, he's in an excellent position to win the nomination next year and to take the governorship for his party for the first time since Jim Martin last held the post from 1985-1993 (he won election in 1984 and reelection in 1988, of course, but governors take office in January).

Here's what PPP has to say:

Democrats' problems in next year's race for Governor of North Carolina go well beyond Bev Perdue. PPP's newest statewide survey finds that a trio of potential Democratic candidates in the event of a Perdue retirement- Attorney General Roy Cooper, Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton, and state senator Dan Blue- would all start out trailing presumptive Republican nominee Pat McCrory by a significant margin. This is not a situation where if Perdue decided to step aside her party would all the sudden be even money to hold the Governor's office- the GOP will start out ahead in this race regardless of who the Democratic candidate ends up being.

After hitting a high point in December Perdue's numbers continue to slide back in the wrong direction. 30% of voters now approve of her with 52% disapproving, the worst her numbers have been since posting identical figures last August. Perdue's decline since December is across the board rather than coming primarily with one voter bloc- with Democrats she's down from 55% to 50% approval, with Republicans she's gone from 15% to 10%, and with independents her drop is from 26% to 21%. We're seeing Gubernatorial approval ratings across the country plummet in the first part of this year- budget time just does not tend to win Governors a whole lot of friends.

Perdue trails Pat McCrory 50-36 this month in a hypothetical rematch of their 2008 contest. Because Perdue's numbers are so poor there's been a lot of speculation about whether she might decide not to run again or whether another Democrat might take her out in the primary. We tested some alternate nominees for the party this month but their prospects don't look great either. Cooper does better than Perdue, trailing by only an 8 point margin at 43-35. But Dalton and Blue each do worse, trailing by 20 point margins at 47-27 and 48-28 respectively. Democrats would be facing an uphill battle with any candidate.

Cooper is mostly unknown statewide- 56% of voters have no opinion about him- but his numbers with the folks that do know him are impressive. 27% have a favorable opinion of him to 18% with an unfavorable one and that includes positive numbers with both Democrats (32/17) and Republicans (26/18). Cooper is probably the only politician in the state who has more voters across party lines that like him than dislike him. That appeal to GOP voters is also the biggest reason why Cooper performs better than Perdue against McCrory- he trails by 63 points with Republicans at 75-12 but that's a lot better than her 75 point deficit at 83-8.

Cooper might not be terribly well known but he's a celebrity at this point compared to Blue and Dalton. Only 33% of voters know Blue well enough to have an opinion about him and Dalton's even lower at 31%. That low name recognition means that their poll deficits are artificially high. 28% of Democrats are undecided in a Blue/McCrory match while only 14% of Republicans are and that gap is even wider for the Dalton match up with 32% of Democrats undecided to only 13% of Republicans. If either of those folks were to become the party nominee the base would likely rally around them and bring these margins a lot closer but make no mistake, they'd still be starting out double digits behind.

Right now North Carolinians are ready to elect a Republican Governor for the first time in more than two decades. Democrats' greatest ally is time- there's a long way to go and depending on how the new GOP legislative majority conducts itself over the next 20 months voters may change their minds about whether Republican control of state government is a particularly desirable outcome. If we voted today though there's little doubt McCrory would be elected Governor against anyone the Democrats put forward.
This analysis is also available on our blog:


Anonymous said...

Seriously, we can't do any better than that slob McCrory? A pretty-boy hack who served as Mayor of Charlotte? Scheeze, come on!

Everytime the Republicans have a wide-open shot at something they nominate Bob Dole, John McCain, and now McCrory. I give up.

Anonymous said...

Bev, is that you? ;)

Anonymous said...

The thought of the party of Reconstruction controlling the legislature and governors' mansion is quite depressing.

Anonymous said...

Whats the problem, McCrory will make a great governor for the state of Charlotte.

Bluedreamer said...

The problem may be that North Carolina is too close to South Carolina. There's something bad in the water down there that prevents rational thought.

Anonymous said...

Tell that to the democrats in Uptown who WILL vote for McCrory!

Anonymous said...

That's before the Republican legislature puts 10,000-15,000 people out of work which they are planning to do. They think that is what their constituents want and put them there for. Once that happens, all the democratic state employees that didn't vote in the last election will vote and put the dems back in charge. The repubs will cut a lot of jobs...including cutting themselves out of control.

Anonymous said...

Bev needs to go home. She is just not bright!

Anonymous said...

I'm voting McCrory.

Anonymous said...

At this time, who do you think really gives a sh-- about your poll? This is just some more of your political propaganda that will flood the papers and airwaves soon enough. The local media has always backed this phony from Duke Power and it is still doing it. Wait until the next election to write this stuff.

Anonymous said...

God help the State employee, environment and jobs if McCrory is voted in. The sad thing is that State employees who are Replublicans will still vote the straight party ticket, even if it means losing their job. They can't help it.