BRAVE NEW WORLD
The news and trends have not been good for Democrats. Polls show that nationally likely voters prefer Republicans over Democrats to solve the nation’s economic morass by 10 percentage points or more. Shrill right-wing bloggers type hate messages in response to newspaper stories. In Nevada, Sharon Angle has raised $14 million in the last quarter to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Even some high-profile Republican leaders earlier this year described Angle as a nut case.
Yet Democrats in Hickory have been able to raise respectable money for their party candidates. A reception for Secretary of State Elaine Marshall at the home of Bob Williams raised $30,000 for her effort to unseat Sen. Richard Burr. An event at the home of Heather and Lyndon Helton in Hickory produced $16,000 for N.C. House candidates David Munday and Gary LaFone. In a county dominated by Republicans for four decades and GOP-biased news media, Democrats are holding on.
If it’s true that all politics are local, Democrats have the chance to follow the footsteps of Rep. Ray Warren, a retiring Democrat admired by business and community leaders of both parties. The opponents of Munday and LaFone are incumbents with a known track record—one that is totally ineffective and lacking any leadership whatsoever.
POLLING THE POLLS: In today’s political campaigns at the state and national level, polls drive the message. Polls also create momentum although the purpose supposedly is to gauge momentum. And, according to a study published by Datanet from UNC-Chapel Hill, all polls are NOT created equal. So who’s poll do you believe?
Well polling analyst Nate Silver has come up with his “grading” system based on the PIE factor—Pollster Introduced Error—which reflects the amount of error associated with a pollster beyond what is unavoidable do to things like sampling variance. A lower score the better. In his rankings, the Field Poll, with a 1.05 PIE factor is the best, the most reliable, followed by ABC/Washington Post.
Not far down the list is Public Policy Polling, headquartered in Raleigh and used by Democratic candidates in North Carolina and beyond. The Rasmussen Poll is further down the list and much further down are CNN/Opinion Research and CBS/New York Times with a 1.94 PIE. Toward the bottom is FOX/Opinion Dynamic (2.22)
The Ayres, McHenry and Associates (yes that McHenry) firm did not release enough data to have relevant or accurate scores, Silver said. Nor were the polling programs at Elon and High Point Universities included although North Carolina media publish their findings frequently. The polling center of the John Pope Civitas Institute also was not included. The full report can be found on the Datanet website.
THREE CABALERROS: There they are side by side. Richard Burr. Patrick McHenry. Kelsey Williams. Through rural areas of the area, their signs, often three feet by four feet, are lined up side by side to appeal to the most rabid of Republicans. Williams is running in a non-partisan District Judge race. In his mind, justice is handed out only by elephants.
Even some Republican lawyers are dismayed. But they say what he is doing is legal, if unethical. Party members in Hickory are circulating a story that Williams was refused service in a downtown sandwich shop because his intra-party politics angered the owner.
TALENT HUNT: Recently, three top Republican senators held a funds-raising reception at Big Ed’s in Raleigh. Minority Leader Phil Berger, Stan Bingham of Denton, and Fletcher Hartsell of Cabarras County were mulling over possible election results that could give the GOP control of the Senate for the first time in 132 years.
Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight has presided over a comfortable Democratic majority, but he has reached across the aisle to name Bingham and Hartsell chairs or co-chairs. Bingham thinks GOP leaders will do the same. “A lot of my associates in the Senate don’t have experience in running and organizing committees,” he told the Informer.
Several Republican senators at the reception worried that the GOP tide is peaking too early. Most voters make up their minds two to three days before they go to the polls unless they vote early, starting Oct. 14.
NUMBER 14?: An official with Elections Data Service out of Manassas Virginia has told state officials that North Carolina could gain another congressional seat as a result of a surge in military population over the past 10 years. The chances are about even, according to Kimbrall Brace, president of EDS. Earlier population estimates showed North Carolina about 51,000 short of a new congressional seat, but that number will close when service persons serving overseas are counted.
There are 416,000 jobs linked to the military operations in the state—8 percent of the state’s total workforce.
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