Under the Dome

N.C. governor’s race closer than expected

jfrank@newsobserver.comMay 16, 2012 

Democrat Walter Dalton and Republican Pat McCrory


A new poll shows the North Carolina governor’s race is much closer than expected, with Republican Pat McCrory holding a 6-point edge over Democratic rival Walter Dalton.

The survey, released Tuesday, is the first of the general election and shows Dalton whittling a double-digit deficit from a poll two months ago.

McCrory gets 46 percent support compared to 40 percent for Dalton, according to a survey of 666 voters by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm. About 13 percent of voters remain undecided, according to the poll conducted days after the May 8 primary.

In early March, according to PPP, McCrory held a lead of 46 percent to 35 percent on Dalton, the N.C. lieutenant governor who was in the middle of a primary contest, his chief rival being former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge.

The race is expected to remain close. A poll earlier this year probing support for a generic Republican or Democrat gave Republicans a 46 percent to 42 percent advantage.

In the most recent poll, McCrory’s numbers are boosted by his strong favorability rating, 41 percent to 28 percent unfavorable. Dalton’s numbers are level with 28 percent favorable and 26 percent unfavorable. In both cases, large undecided pools will give the campaigns plenty of room to work.

Inside the May numbers: McCrory gets 17 percent support from respondents who labeled themselves “very liberal;” Dalton gets 7 percent of the “very conservative” category. Likewise, McCrory gets 18 percent of the Democratic vote.

The big number: McCrory wins independents 52 percent to 29 percent.

(One note: The poll doesn’t include Libertarian candidate Barbara Howe, who can be expected to receive 2 percent of the vote.)

The poll’s margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.8 percentage points.

Ear plugs will counter protest

Americans for Prosperity is offering a solution to lawmakers as protesters plan to descend on the statehouse Wednesday, banging pots and pans to mark the opening of the session.

“We will be offering state workers, tourists and lawmakers ‘NC Real Solutions ear plugs’ to drown out the noise from these groups,” a press release from the conservative group states.

(Insert joke about tone-deaf lawmakers here.)

AFP hopes any lawmakers with earplugs will take them out at a certain point – because they have an agenda to advocate, too. “We will be encouraging lawmakers to continue to focus on the real solutions offered by the bipartisan state budget that not only closed the $3 billion budget deficit but also added state-funded teacher positions and lowered taxes,” the statement reads. They will also “thank lawmakers for offering real solutions without increasing taxes.”

Voter fraud subject of film

A conservative filmmaker known for exposing ACORN debuted a new video Tuesday that claims to uncover voter fraud in North Carolina.

James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas put a 10-minute video on YouTube – using hidden cameras and people posing as others – that purports to identify two noncitizens and a dead man still on voter rolls. It also digs into the vote on the constitutional marriage amendment by airing unflattering interviews with UNC-Chapel Hill officials and anti-amendment campaign supporters. (See video here: http://bit.ly/L8rXRs)

Gary Bartlett, the state’s elections chief, said his agency will investigate the claims in the video, saying it showed “a lot of things disturbing.”

It’s unclear, Bartlett said, if the claims are true, and he acknowledges skepticism. He said the investigation probably won’t occur for a few weeks, saying it’s not a top priority for his office given the vote canvassing efforts underway after the May primary.

“I think that when it’s all done, it’s not very credible,” Bartlett said, citing other political blogs already challenging the video’s evidence. “All it does is hurt the process. Our laws are based on honesty and self-policing.”

The elections agency also will investigate whether the people working with the filmmaker who tried to vote in the name of another violated state criminal law by impersonating a registered voter.

Staff writer John Frank

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