Walter Dalton, Bob Etheridge and Bill Faison are slugging it out in the Democratic Primary and the prospect of one of them emerging flat broke after the election and facing Pat McCrory (who’s sitting on $3 million) in the fall has Republicans feeling warm all over about winning the Governor’s race for the first time in two decades.
But the Democrats are not in as bad a shape as it seems at first glance – after all, there’re still three quarters of a million more Democrats than Republicans in North Carolina and either Dalton or Etheridge or Faison is going to suit most of them just fine and it’s a safe bet as soon as the primary’s over those Democrats are going to unite into a phalanx and we’re going to be looking at one close Governor’s race.
And another mysterious piece of ephemera is going to change too.
Pat McCrory spent a year running against Bev Perdue who has been so unpopular McCrory just naturally looked a little larger and better than life. Since Perdue exited the stage Dalton and Etheridge and Faison have been fighting with each other, so for the last three months McCrory’s been running against no one at all which is another good way to look larger than life.
But once the primary’s over folks are going to start looking at Pat McCrory and comparing him to Walter Dalton (or whoever) and then that ephemeral bit of key chemistry is going to change.
In a way, what’s about to happen to McCrory is like what has happened to Barack Obama over the past year – only in reverse.
A year ago Obama was running against no one and since a lot had gone wrong on his watch people were looking at Obama and imagining a faceless alternative and the alternative looked pretty good and Obama’s chances of reelection looked pretty bleak.
But now Obama’s opponent has a face and folks are looking at Obama and Mitt Romney side by side and comparing them and Obama doesn’t look quite so bad because Mitt Romney has clay feet too.
The same thing’s about to happen to Pat McCrory only the other way around – because McCrory, unlike Obama, is popular and being popular and not running against anyone just naturally makes a fellow look better than he really is – until people start comparing him to another fellow and then, well, he just naturally doesn’t look like quite such a tower of strength.
Of course, if you had a choice you’d rather be in Pat McCrory’s shoes than Walter Dalton’s (or whoever’s) because $3 million is a lot of money, but, still, 750,000 more Democrats than Republicans is a lot of votes too.