How bad is it for Democrats in North Carolina? Even Sheriff Andy Taylor is taking a beating in the polls.
Andy Griffith, star of the Andy Griffith Show, a Manteo resident and noted endorser of Democratic causes and candidates, has seen his approval ratings plummet, according to a poll published Tuesday by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling.
The Democratic pollster found that Griffith's approval rating has fallen 25 points since 2008. Griffith has been a closer for Democrats, an unimpeachable saintly figure who fills his rare political spots with folksy charm and obvious references to his role as a small-town North Carolina sheriff.
In July he cut an ad for the federal government promising good things to come from the Democratic-backed health care law. And as the poll suggests, the ad may have tainted the Griffith brand and taken from Democrats an important campaign weapon.
"Clearly it's pushback from the president's health care plan," said Brad Crone, a Democratic consultant who is working with legislative candidates. "It's a good time to call up Barney Fife."
It's worth noting that in the show's first season, Sheriff Taylor's endorsement was the only reason that Ellie the pharmacist was elected as the first woman to the Mayberry Town Council.
N.C. State University professor Andy Taylor (no relation) said as the population ages and more people move here from other states, Griffith's popularity is waning. Taylor himself used to get a chuckle out of telling his students a first-day-of-class joke about his name and the fictional sheriff.
"Now they kind of look at me like 'Who the heck are you talking about?' " Taylor said.