Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Is Clinton Sneaking up in the Tar Heel State?

According to the newest poll released by the Public Policy Polling group, Sen. Clinton seems to be sneaking up on Sen. Obama in North Carolina. While Obama seems to hold a 51% lead in the state, Clinton is up to 39%, which, according to PPP, has cut the lead in half.

As PPP notes, the movement towards Clinton seems to come from white voters. According to the poll's breakdown among respondents' by race, Clinton has a 56%-35% lead among white voters (63% of the poll's respondents), with Obama garnering 83% to Clinton's 9% of black voters (33% of the poll's respondents). With an unexpectedly large turnout, it may appear that Obama continues to struggle among white voters--and today's endorsement by the white "Bubba" governor of North Carolina doesn't help Obama make inroads among those voters.

Another interesting note is the cross-tab analysis of those respondents who are Democrat versus those who are "unaffiliated" (N.C.'s primary is a semi-closed primary, meaning only those who are registered with the party or are "unaffiliated" (i.e., independent) can vote in the primary). Obama is garnering Democratic respondents 53%-38% (Democrats made up 88% of the poll's respondents), but Clinton is garnering unaffiliated respondents 47%-41% (12% of the respondents). This appears to be reverse of what we have typically seen in other primaries, with Obama getting unaffiliated/independents and Clinton getting the core Democrats.

One other curious breakdown: of those who indicated their area code, Clinton is doing extremely well in the 828 section of the state--basically the Western mountains of North Carolina. She is also making it close in the 336 area code, basically the Triad area of Greensboro & Winston-Salem, as well as in the Charlotte area of 704. The core counties that make up 50% of the vote are along the I-85/40 corridor, and an area that Obama needs to do well in if past elections indicate that Clinton will pull in the rural voters. Another suprise: Obama is doing well among those rural, "downeasters" that are often the "Jessecrats" of the state, in area codes 910 (Fayetteville) with 57%-33% over Clinton and 252 (Greenville) with 55%-33% over Clinton.

So what does this tell us? With less than a week to go, the Democratic presidential primary election is clear as mud in North Carolina.