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North Carolina - Democrats

30
Chad Barefoot must have asked his team: “What can we do that will so anger and offend women that they’ll vote AGAINST me?”
 
They came up with an ad that has backfire potential approaching the “child molester” ad against Justice Robin Hudson. It portrays Sarah Crawford’s husband as a cigar-smoking lobbyist laughing about how his little woman will vote the way he tells her to in the Senate.
 
Kimberly Reynolds of the Senate Democratic caucus pounced: “Evidently in Senator Barefoot’s world, corporate lobbyists rule and women are expected to simply follow their husbands’ orders.”
 
The ad could be a caricature of the Negative Ad. It’s not only sexist and over-the-top, it’s hypocritical: Yes, Sarah’s husband is a lobbyist – for the League of Conservation Voters. And, I’m told, Chad Barefoot’s mother-in-law also is a lobbyist – for the outfit that passed Amendment One.
 
In a district where women already are motivated – and make up a high number of swing voters – Chad & Co. may have pulled off one of the biggest bonehead plays of this election year.

 

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30
The term is new to me, but dog whistles are the oldest thing in Southern politics. This election, like all of them, comes down to race.
 
In 1950, it was “White People Wake Up…Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and daughters in your mills and factories?”
 
In 1984, it was “I oppose the Martin Luther King holiday. Where do you stand, Jim?”
 
Today it’s mailers linking Gary Pendleton’s opponent Kim Hanchette to a scary-looking photo of the Rev. William Barber. And Phil Matthews’ supporters criticizing Matt Calabria for supporting UNC’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies when he ran for UNC student body president in 2004.
 
Same old, same old.
 
Republicans, as always, will say it’s Democrats who are “playing the race card.” They’ll say it’s racist for Democrats to link Republicans like Thom Tillis to Stand Your Ground laws, President Obama’s impeachment and voter-suppression laws.
 
Where you come down on this divide pretty much defines where you stand in American politics.
 
Just like it has ever since the Civil War, it still comes down to race.

 

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30
If you’re tired of ads, tired of contradictory punditry and tired of conflicting, confusing and cooked-up polls, here’s a prescription for sanity: Take a dose of the Elon University poll.
 
A warning about side effects: It will calm Democrats and give Republicans heartburn. (Hagan is up 45-41.)That aside, it gives you as clear, comprehensive and unbiased a look at the North Carolina electorate right now as you’re going to get. It isn’t a quickie poll to get the sponsor a headline, and it isn’t a cooked-up poll from a partisan.
 
Best of all for us poll junkies, they give you the full crosstabs. You can see the racial and religious breakdowns, the difference between NC natives and non-natives, voters’ opinions about issues from gay marriage (opposition is up) to abortion restrictions (opposition is also up).
 
You can see what has to be the number of most concern to Thom Tillis and the Republican legislature: 30 approve, 55 disapprove (worse than Obamacare). Nor will Governor McCrory find much comfort: he gets 37 approve, 47 disapprove.
 
A tip of the TAP hat to the Elon poll team!

 

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29
Thom Tillis said Kay Hagan voted for Obama’s Stimulus Bill then her husband’s company got $390,000 in Stimulus Funds as a pay-off. And Hagan fired back Tillis (as Speaker) put a toll road near Charlotte in exchange for $25,000 in campaign contributions and sold three seats on the UNC Board of Governors for $75,000 in donations to his SuperPac.
 
Imagine being an Undecided Independent voter.
 
You don’t like Tillis or Hagan. You’d love to vote against both. But you have to choose one. And a week before the election, you turn on the TV and hear him saying ‘she’s a crook’ and her saying ‘he’s a bigger crook.’
 
How do you decide? Flip a coin?

 

 

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29
A pollster will usually ask voters: Would you say you 1) Always vote Democratic, 2) Usually vote Democratic, 3) Always vote Republican, 4) Usually vote Republican or 5) would you say you split your ticket and vote for about as many Republicans as Democrats?
 
Down at the Editorial Board (not in the news room) at the News and Observer the boys have gone 5 for 5 in the local Congressional Races – picking five Democrats and not a single Republican.  
 
They also went 4 for 4 in the County Commissioners races – picking 4 Democrats.  
 
And they endorsed Lorrin Freeman, the Democrat in the District Attorney’s race.
 
Then they went 12 of 12 – endorsing 12 Democrats in the State House races.
 
They did endorse one Republican – Sheriff Donnie Harrison – in a backhanded way, spending most of their editorial explaining what Donnie had done wrong and praising his opponent.
 
At any rate, one thing’s clear: Whoever’s doing the picking down at the N&O Editorial Board isn’t a ticket splitter.

 

 

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27
As bleak as Governor McCrory’s job approval numbers were in the WRAL poll, that wasn’t the worst news. Consider how Republicans, Democrats and Independents feel about the General Assembly.
                                   
                                             Republican Voters
                                             Approve 35%
                                             Disapprove 38%
 
                                             Conservative Voters
                                             Approve 33%
                                             Disapprove 37%
 
                                             Independent Voters
                                             Approve 20%
                                             Disapprove 54%
 
Now I can imagine Republican leaders over in the legislature pooh-poohing and saying,  Ah, well, that doesn’t really matter. We drew the districts.
 
But how long can a Republican state legislator in any district remain safe if Republicans and Conservatives think he’s doing a poor job?
 
Four years ago, Republicans won a majority in the General Assembly because voters were angry at Obama. Back then, two numbers ran through polls like plum-lines: Two-thirds of the Independents disapproved of the President – and almost to a man they voted Republican down the line. The correlation between the President’s job disapproval and the Republican vote was nearly absolute.
 
Which, after the election, led to a miscalculation: Human nature being what it is Republicans, naturally, figured the real reason they’d won was because voters had discovered their virtues, seen the light, converted to the true faith and agreed with Republicans down the line on issues from tax reform to education spending.
 
Next, naturally, as soon as they were sworn in Republicans started passing bills but before you, say, tell a senior citizen you’re going to start taxing his prescription drugs (as a part of tax reform) you have to explain to him pretty clearly why that’s a good idea and how he’s going to be better off in the long run – because if you don’t you may end up with approval rating of 23%.
 
When Reverend William Barber and his Moral Monday cohorts starting telling voters Republicans hated children and women and old people and dogs and cats, silence wasn’t the answer. Republican leaders needed to stand up, sound off, and make their case explaining why Reverend Barber was dead-wrong.
 
But that never happened. And it won’t happen before November 4th.  So the next question is simple: How do Republican legislators turn those numbers around before the next election?
 

 

 

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24
The Republican effort to suppress votes at Appalachian State University may have backfired.
 
More than 700 people voted yesterday at the Student Union polling place that the State Board of Elections tried to shut down. Now we know why the board didn't want it.
 
An App student said, “It sends a clear message about how we respond to being suppressed. College students are obviously listening.”
 
A tip of the TAP hat to the 20-somethings in the ASU College Dems and the 20-plus-somethings in the Watauga County Dems who fought so hard for this.
 
Ian O’Keefe, the coordinated-campaign manager, was supposed to be on Rachel Maddow’s show last night to talk about it, but got bumped by Ebola.
 
Now Republicans might get bumped by an epidemic of their own making.

 

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24
 
 
36% Approve
46% Disapprove
 
The WRAL Poll painted a bleak picture  of a Governor caught between a rock and a hard place.  As Mark Binker wrote, only a little over a third of the voters approve of the job Governor McCrory is doing.
 
But worse news lurked beneath the surface.
 
These days you see polarized groups of voters everywhere. Left, right, up, down, Republican, Democrat; everyone is mad at someone and can’t wait to vote ‘em out of office: Republicans don’t like Obama so they’re voting against Kay Hagan. Democrats don’t like the state legislature so they’re voting against Thom Tillis.
 
But, buried in the crosstabs of WRAL’s poll, two pitfalls lie in wait for Pat McCrory. Consider the Governor’s job approval rating among Republicans:

    Approve 64%
    Disapprove 22%
 
Almost a quarter of the Republicans believe Governor McCrory is doing a poor job. That doesn’t mean they won’t vote for him but whoever heard of a Republican winning a statewide election without winning 90% plus of the Republican vote.
 
One last statistic: The Governor needs half the Independents vote for him to win. Here’re the numbers:
  
Independent Voters
Pat McCrory Approve: 33%
Pat McCrory Disapprove: 46%

 

 

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24
Headline (two weeks ago): Thom Tillis on Life Support. Campaign Dying. 
 
Headline (this week): Tillis Makes Miraculous Recovery. Campaign Surging.
 
Now, as a storyline, that’s just about unbeatable. It’s like Lazarus rising from the dead.
 
The problem is two months ago, two weeks ago, and today (in WRAL’s latest poll), Thom Tillis has trailed Kay Hagan by the same number – 3 points. He hasn’t moved.
 
He wasn’t dead then and he’s not resurrected now which brings me to a terrible devilment: Temptation. And reporters love of a good story.
 
Tillis Dying was pure melodrama and the press (especially the Washington press) bought the story hook, line and sinker.
 
Then the press needed a new story and temptation bit again. Tillis Makes Miraculous Recovery was even greater melodrama. And it beat writing: No Change in Election. Nothing new. Or explaining: Election Mystery: Undecided Voters Dislike Both Tillis and Hagan. Who will they Choose?

 

 

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23
I watched the ‘empty chair’ debate too (see Gary’s blog below).
 
And it brought back old memories. Of old foibles.
           
Years ago, in 1980, when John East ran against Robert Morgan he challenged Senator Morgan to a debate. And challenged Morgan to debate. And challenged Morgan to debate.
 
And Morgan said No, No and No.
 
So we had a great idea – we’d do an ad with John East debating an empty chair.
 
The other night Time Warner Cable TV did the same thing – held a debate with Thom Tillis and an empty chair (because Kay Hagan didn’t show up).
 
Which brings me back to what happened to John East 34 years ago.
 
We ran our great ad from Manteo to Murphy, blanketed the airwaves – then polled and nothing had changed.
 
No one cared.

 

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