VIDEO: The State of Election 2014 in North Carolina

Want to hear a smart take on how North Carolina’s elections are shaping up?

Check out the video above, featuring a panel discussion with Rob Christensen of the Raleigh News & Observer and Laura Leslie of WRAL-TV, along with Dr. Steven Greene and Dr. Andrew Taylor from N.C. State University.

Held on Monday night on the campus of NSCU, the event was co-hosted by the university’s School of Public & International Affairs and the N.C. Center for Voter Education.


Poll: Hagan has edge in Senate contest, but GOP leads legislative ballot

Voters should do their homework before heading to the polls

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Poll: Hagan has edge in Senate contest, but GOP leads legislative ballot

With early voting set to begin on Thursday across North Carolina, new numbers from Public Policy Polling show incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan with a slim three-point lead over Republican N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Meanwhile, Republicans have a narrow two-point advantage when it comes to a generic ballot for state legislative races – despite the GOP-led N.C. General Assembly still being widely unpopular among North Carolina voters.

The survey finds Hagan leading Tillis 46-43 percent, with Libertarian Sean Haugh garnering 5 percent of support. Haugh appears to be siphoning slightly more votes from Tillis than Hagan at this point, as 5 percent of Republicans say they will vote for the Libertarian, compared to 2 percent of Democrats who say the same.

“It’s still a close race but Hagan’s lead – though small – has certainly been persistent and something dramatic may need to happen in the final two weeks to allow Tillis to come out on top,” pollster Tom Jensen writes in his analysis of the survey results.

Just 25 percent of voters approve of the job done by the Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly, but the GOP nevertheless holds a 46-44 percent edge over Democrats in a generic legislative ballot.

That may be due in part to the fact that neither side of the General Assembly’s aisle is all that popular among voters, with legislative Republicans registering a net negative 5 percent rating, while legislative Democrats suffer from a net negative 10 percent rating.

And although he is not on the ballot in November, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has seen his approval rating rebound somewhat from earlier in the year. The latest survey from PPP finds McCrory with a net negative 3 percent rating, which is better than Hagan’s and Tillis’ net negative ratings of 9 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Interestingly, Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, now serving his second term in the U.S. Senate and up for re-election in 2016, is still largely unknown to many North Carolina voters. According to the poll, a plurality of voters – 38 percent – have no opinion of Burr’s job performance.


Voters should do their homework before heading to the polls

Poll: Majority of N.C. voters feel qualified to hold public office

Posted in Election 2014, N.C. legislature, North Carolina, Polls, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment

Pew: Likely voters more polarized than general public

A new report from Pew Research finds that nationally, voters likely to go to the polls in November’s election are more politically polarized than the general American public.

While voters who self-identify as consistently conservative or liberal make up about 1 in 5 voters overall, they comprise a third of likely voters this year, according to Pew.

And in a sign that could point to a strong year for Republicans, 73 percent of self-described consistently conservative voters plan to cast a ballot, compared to 58 percent of those voters who call themselves consistently liberal.

A similar advantage holds among “mostly conservative” voters, 52 percent of whom say they plan on voting, while just 32 percent of “mostly liberal” voters say the same.

Meanwhile, only 25 percent of voters with a mixture of conservative and liberal views say they are likely to turn out on Election Day.

“Hostility to the opposing party is a key marker of polarization and is a strong motivator to vote, especially among conservatives and Republicans,” the Pew report states.

Ticket-splitting looks to be rare this year, with just 12 percent of voters saying they plan to cast a ballot for more than one political party. Even among unaffiliated voters, 65 percent say they will vote a straight-party ticket, with independents “seven points slightly more likely to choose a straight Republican ticket than a straight Democratic ticket.”

The full report from Pew Research can be seen here.



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N.C. ranks 7th nationally for women in government

North Carolina leads the South and is 7th in the nation when it comes to the number of women holding public office in the state.

Those findings are from Representation 2020, a project of the nonpartisan FairVote aimed at raising “awareness of the under-representation of women in elected office.”

The study gives North Carolina a “gender parity” score of 29 out of an ideal score of 50. That places the state atop the region, with Florida the next highest ranking Southern state at 17th in the nation and with a score of 19.

New Hampshire leads the nation in gender parity among its elected officials, earning a score of 47 out of 50. Virginia is last, with a score of just 4.

The report notes that half of North Carolina’s 10 elected executive-branch officials are women, and since 2003, one of the state’s two U.S. senators have been female.

However, North Carolina ranks 32nd in the nation when it comes specifically to gender parity in its legislature, where women comprise just 16 percent of the N.C. Senate and 24 percent of the N.C. House.

While outnumbered by men in the N.C. General Assembly, women comprise 54 percent of registered voters in North Carolina.

The full report from Representation 2020 can be seen here.


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Poll: Majority of N.C. voters feel qualified to hold public office

Most North Carolina voters look at the job performance of their elected officials and say, “I could do that.”

Sixty-one percent of voters say they are qualified to hold public office, including 13 percent who say they are very qualified, according to a new poll from High Point University.

Still, Tar Heel voters are a bit less confident in their qualifications to hold office than their counterparts in some other states. While more than a third of North Carolina voters say they are not at all qualified to be an elected official, just 20 percent of New Hampshire voters and 19 percent of Colorado voters say the same.

Meanwhile, North Carolina voters overwhelmingly believe that gender has little to do with political success, with 86 percent viewing men and women as equally suited to lead. Seven percent say men are better qualified to serve, while six percent say women make better political leaders.

That differs slightly from the poll’s findings in New Hampshire, where voters believe women are better qualified to serve in office than men by a three-point margin, and Colorado, where women are viewed as better leaders than men by a five-point edge.

However, a solid majority of voters in both states (80 percent in Colorado and 84 percent in New Hampshire) view men and women as equally suited for political leadership.

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