Under the Dome

Outside group may be polling on NC governor race

Pat McCrory and Roy Cooper
Pat McCrory and Roy Cooper Raleigh

Someone has been polling North Carolina voters for their views on the match-up between Gov. Pat McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper in a clearly anti-McCrory and pro-Cooper live phone survey.

Cooper has scheduled what is anticipated to be a formal announcement of his candidacy on Monday.

His campaign and the state Democratic Party say it wasn’t their poll. That points to what’s ahead between now and November 2016: National and in-state independent groups polling and raising money that will help both candidates. McCrory’s re-election bid is already considered one of the most-anticipated gubernatorial campaigns in the country.

This one sounds out voters on specific issues to gauge what lines of attack and defense are the most effective for future advertising and other campaign messaging.

A taped recording of one such phone call was provided to Dome over the weekend. Neither the caller nor voter are identified on the recording, and it isn’t known when it was made. However, judging from the questions, it would have been a fairly recent call..

The caller, reading from a script, hits McCrory on several fronts:

▪ The governor said the state had borrowed too much money yet he pushed for $2 billion in bonds.

▪ His record on education has lowered teacher morale, led to poor student performance, teachers taking other jobs, test scores slipping.

▪ McCrory’s response to regulating coal ash has been too lenient.

▪ McCrory steered economic grants and jobs to Charlotte, where he was mayor for 14 years, leaving less money for rural counties.

▪ The governor eliminated child-care tax credit, earned income tax credit, the back to school sales tax holiday and benefits for college savings plans, while giving tax breaks to the wealthy.

▪ He broke his promise not to approve new restrictions on abortion, and went along with legislation requiring fetal ultrasound records be sent to state regulators.

Ricky Diaz, N.C. GOP spokesman, said the poll was based on false talking points meant to attack McCrory and amounted to "dirty politics."

"Roy Cooper can't be too happy his campaign playbook was made public just before his announcement on Monday, especially considering he's been waiting for his turn to run for governor for 30 years, and has been actively planning to run for at least three years,” Diaz said Saturday. “. … Not a great start to Roy Cooper's much-hyped campaign."

Ford Porter, spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said, “Given Gov. McCrory's extraordinary vulnerability, it's no surprise that outside groups are interested in polling in North Carolina. The bottom line is Gov. McCrory has taken sides with giant corporations and special interests and left middle-class families behind. It's his own misplaced priorities that have so many people interested in replacing Pat McCrory."