Friday, May 2, 2008

Where Might Clinton & Obama Watch for Votes on Tuesday?

After looking at some recent polls indicating that the race for the Democratic Presidential Primary is tightening in North Carolina, some deeper investigation and some historic trend analysis may point to some areas of the state that each candidate should be watching for on Tuesday evening:
  • For Sen. Clinton, turnout in the Blue Ridge Mountains, excluding Buncombe and its Asheville urban area, as well as turnout in the land of the Jesse-crats (down east, past Raleigh towards the coast) will be crucial. Obama will probably do well in Asheville, but the surrounding mountain counties are as staunchly rural and conservative as any rural county in Pennsylvania or Ohio--and that's where Clinton does best. The same is said for the flat-land, tobacco rural counties downeast.
  • For Sen. Obama, the turnout in the I-85/40 corridor in the middle of the state will be crucial for him to stave off the surge that Clinton appears to be making in the past week. As noted earlier, 15 counties will most likely provide over 50% of the vote in this election, and it comes along the Charlotte-Winston/Salem-Greensboro-Raleigh-Durham stretch of the state. Urban areas, with populations of black voters and highly-educated, high income voters, will be Obama's key areas.

So who does that leave? Suburban whites, in particular, will continue to play critical roles, as they have in the past. While Clinton will be watching her base on eastern and western parts of the state and Obama will be watching the middle part, all eyes will continue to be on suburban voters as the most likely king-maker of the Tar Heel presidential primary.

One other aspect to watch: how each candidate fairs in the various congressional districts that align with these regions. 38 delegates are to be allocated to presidential contenders based on the primary vote statewide, while 77 district delegates are to be allocated proportionally to presidential contenders based on the caucus and conventions results in each of the State's 13 congressional districts:
CD 1: 6
CD 2: 6
CD 3: 4
CD 4: 9
CD 5: 5
CD 6: 5
CD 7: 6
CD 8: 5
CD 9: 6
CD 10: 5
CD 11: 6
CD 12: 7
CD 13: 7

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.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Easley Endorses--Will It Help Clinton Attract Bubba?

News is breaking tonight that Governor Mike Easley, who has been reluctant to cast his support in past presidential primaries, has publicly endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton, giving a much needed superdelegate boast after her win in Pennsylvania. With both Democratic candidates (Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue and State Treasurer Richard Moore) supporting Sen. Obama, it would appear that the division among Democratic Tar Heel elites mirrors that of other states, especially akin to the most recent primary election in Pennsylvania (U.S. Senator Bob Casey and Governor Ed Rendell on opposite sides).

So what might Gov. Mike's support mean? Most importantly, it helps Clinton with the group that she has been doing best with--rural voters. Easley's past political support has been from the rural areas, and with Clinton doing extremely well with rural voters (in PA's exit poll, she beat Obama 63%-37%; in OH's exit poll, she beat him 70%-26%), she could easily erase the double-digit lead he has in the Tar Heel state and become very competitive here--but there's only a week to go. Of course, a lot of this is tied to how much Gov. Easley will be willing to actually go out and stump for her; Mike has been known around Raleigh (and the state) as someone with "better things to do" than necessarily govern. But if he were to actively go out and publicly support her, it may help build that country vote to counter Obama's strength in urban areas--which will leave the primary election's battleground (once again) to the suburbanities.

North Carolina seems to have some easy comparisons and contradictions to how Pennsylvania voted: most importantly, if Clinton can come with single-digits of Obama (or, even most improbable, beat him), then the Democratic race will enter a new stratosphere of confusion and chaos.