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16
Francis DeLuca at Civitas took issue with my blog about their polls (“Cooking Numbers at Civitas.”) He tweeted (@fxdeluca): “@jgaryp thanks for the follow! But don't appreciate your comments about Civitas polling! #youknowbetter.”
 
Here’s what I know. When the late Jack Hawke was at Civitas, he worked hard to give their polls credibility. But that credibility was stretched thin when Civitas put out a “flash poll” saying Tom Bradshaw (who I’m working for) led John Alexander by 52-36, then hours later sent out “a corrected version of today’s flash poll,” saying the lead actually was 10 points. No explanation was given for the correction.
 
Sorry, Francis; it smelled fishy.
 
This is just one example of why the plethora of polls this time in a campaign is more confusing than enlightening. There are so many polls in the news. Sometimes they’re consistent; sometimes they vary widely. How do you sort through them?
 
I’ve been looking at polls for 40 years now, and here’s my advice. First ask whether a poll has an institutional attachment (or big funder) that might influence the findings – or how the findings are reported. Then look at whether it used live callers or automated calls (IVR). Robo-polls can’t call cell phones, and 20-25 percent or more of voters may use only a cell phone.
 
Finally, ask yourself: Was the sponsor motivated to do the poll to get good information – or just get publicity for themselves? Would they spend the extra money it takes to do a good poll, or do it on the cheap to get a headline?
 
And a word to candidates and their campaigns. If you’re spending the money it takes to get good polls – and you should be – take public polls with a huge helping of salt. Take this advice from Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, who won in 2010 after public polls showed him losing, though his own pollster had shown him ahead: “Trust your pollster. If you don’t, you’ll go crazy.”

 

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16
When Thom Tillis started his campaign his prospects looked promising. Obama wasn’t just unpopular, his unpopularity was a plumb line cutting through the electorate – you were either for Obama or against him and Kay Hagan was on the wrong side of the line.
 
Tillis, himself, back then wasn’t too well known but he could count on the Republican base falling in line and with 70% of the Swing Voters disapproving of Obama it looked like they’d fall in line, too, and send him sailing to victory.
 
Then, even before Tillis won the Republican Primary, Kay Hagan (and her Super PAC allies) lit into Tillis calling him a Koch-Brothers-Tea-Partier and, then, instead of sailing to victory, the earth shifted beneath Tillis’ feet.
 
To be continued …
 

 

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15
Stop the presses. I have something nice to say about Governor McCrory.
 
Unlike his Republican colleagues Thom Tillis, Phil Berger and Dan Forrest, McCrory said he will respect and obey the court decision on gay marriage, even if he doesn’t like it.
 
Good for him.
 
But why? I asked a couple of smart political people. One (a kind-hearted soul) said: “I don’t think he’s a mean person at all.” Another (a cynical sort) offered: “He needs every vote in 2016.”
 
Here’s a third theory: Duke Energy. Yes, his former employer, which may be his biggest obstacle to reelection because of the coal ash spill.
 
The theory: working almost 30 years for a large corporation taught McCrory the importance of diversity and tolerance. It’s not that corporations are nice people, it’s that they value smart, hard-working employees regardless of sexual orientation.
 
Whatever the reason, McCrory’s stance is a welcome change from fulminations about “activist judges,” “judicial tyranny” and “60 percent of North Carolinians voted for the amendment.”
 
Well, 60 years ago, 60 percent of North Carolina voters would have voted for racial segregation. That didn’t make it morally right or constitutional. The reason we have judges and courts, as the conservatives usually remind us, is to protect individual liberty against the tyranny of the majority.
 
So it is here.

 

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15
When I saw Kay Hagan’s first ad saying Thom Tillis was supported by the Tea-Party-leaning-Koch-Brothers I thought, Now, that’s odd – after all, the Koch Brothers weren’t on the ballot and no one cared a hoot who they supported.
 
But I was dead wrong.
 
Because it wasn’t the Koch Brothers who mattered – it was the Tea Party. Hagan had figured out Swing Voters disliked the Tea Party almost as much as they disliked Obama – so she set out to make Thom Tillis a Tea Partier and ten million dollars later Swing Voters (who still didn’t like Obama) were looking at Tillis and saying, I don’t like him either.
 
To be continued …

 

 

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15
Some perspective on the breathless reports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is pumping another $6.5 million into Thom Tillis’ campaign: What does that buy, and what does it get you with still-undecided voters?
 
On the buy, it gets you about half what it would get you if you had bought the time weeks or months ago. TV ads are based on the free enterprise system. When demand goes up, the cost goes up. So a spot that you could have bought before for, say, $500 now costs you $1,000.
 
Then the second question: Given the flood of ads, from the Senate race and other campaigns, is anything new getting through to voters now?
 
Hagan’s campaign bet on spending big early. Tillis and his allies are betting big on spending late. We’ll see who’s right.

 

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15
Months ago, back when she started her campaign, Kay Hagan faced a knotty problem: She was going to get the Democratic base vote; her opponent was going to get the Republican base vote; but the Swing Voters didn’t like President Obama and, so, were on track to vote Hagan out of office.
 
Now, theoretically, Hagan could have rolled up her sleeves and gone to work to make Obama popular but, as a practical matter, Obama’s popularity was beyond Hagan’s control.
 
Hagan could also have tried to distance herself from Obama – Democratic candidates had been doing that for years. But after voting for Obamacare that looked dicey too.
 
Which left one alternative: Hagan could go to work to get the Swing Voters who disliked Obama to dislike Thom Tillis even more.
 
Then she might just win.
 
To be continued …

 

 

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14
I miss Jamie. I miss her smile, her laugh and the parties she threw. This campaign season, I’ve missed her political smarts and fundraising skills. A lot of candidates could have used her.
 
So this weekend I’ll join a lot of people – many who knew her and miss her and many who didn’t know her but were moved by her – at the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation’s Weekend of Purpose. You’re invited too, to Saturday’s day of service, that night’s celebration and Sunday’s brunch at Poole’s. Get information and tickets here.
 
The Foundation has wisely begun a strategic planning process for the future, but – as Jamie would have it – hasn’t waited to get to work. Established just a year ago, it’s already having an impact, without spending much of the money it has raised.
 
That has happened through its Raleigh Food Corridor campaign; the Gathering for Good series; the Second Saturday celebrations of food, entrepreneurs and policy; and service projects with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Raleigh City Farm, Activate Good, and the NC Fair Share Community Development Corporation.
 
Most important, it's making good on the promise to mobilize an Army of Jamies, led by her husband Nation, Executive Director Alexis Trost and an extraordinary board that includes Jamie’s parents and leaders like Joyce Fitzpatrick, Chris Sgro and Ken Lewis.
 
Coming less than three weeks before a big election, the celebration is a reminder that the work of helping people and building North Carolina doesn’t just happen in campaigns or in government.
 
As she did in her too-short life, Jamie Kirk Hahn is still inspiring people to do great things.

 

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14
If you think about it DENR’s proposal was pretty odd.
 
Last winter, when tons of water from a coal ash pond poured into the Dan River, there was consternation and gnashing of teeth. The U.S. Attorney started investigating. The Governor ordered every coal ash pond cleaned up. The legislature said Amen.
 
Then, with hardly a soul noticing, last August DENR signed off on a plan to clean up coal ash ponds – by dumping the water in the ponds directly into rivers and lakes.
 
Which sounded, more or less, like what had happened on the Dan River.
 
Which was odd.
 
And what happened next was even odder.
 
EPA nixed  DENR’s plan (and the controversy exploded in the newspapers again) then DENR announced it had simply been following orders (or an Executive Order) from the Governor. And did an about face.
 
In other words, DENR threw the Governor under the bus – which is something you don’t see happen in state government every day.

 

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14
America’s Great Ebola Freakout has produced some good lines:
 
“I wasn’t afraid of Ebola here until McCrory’s press conference lineup today reminded me that he, Wos and Tata are the ones protecting us from it. God help us.”
 
“Sarah Palin demanded today that President Obama protect America and invade Ebola.”

 

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13
First ISIS. Then Ebola. Now men marring men and women marrying women. What’s next? “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”?
 
More to the point, will video and big Page One pictures of newlywed men kissing each other sway this election?
 
Consider three things here.
 
First, yes, Amendment One passed with 60 percent of the vote. Two years ago. In a primary election with no big race. This is a general election with a big US Senate race and a lot of hot legislative races. Public opinion has moved fast since then, and same-sex marriages are happening all over the country.
 
Second, some number of the votes for Amendment One were African-American voters. They are more religious than most voters, they go to church more and their churches often are evangelical. Quite a few black preachers preached against same-sex marriage in 2010. It’s safe to say these voters will not be voting Republican in 2014.
 
Third, what’s the impact in precisely the urban areas with big college populations where sentiment runs strongest against the Republican legislature? Will these younger, college-educated voters stay home now, content that all is well? Or will this just galvanize an even bigger vote as they see that change is within their reach?
 
My guess is that same-sex marriage is at worst a wash for Democrats and very possibly a plus.

 

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Carter & Gary
 
Carter Wrenn
 
 
Gary Pearce
 
 
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
 
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
 
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
 
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
 
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
 
They’re still talking. And they invite you to join the conversation.
 
 
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