What happened in North Carolina? [Election Polling]

For a long time, NC was considered a potential battleground state. Obama did well here in the Primary. There are a lot of urban areas and a lot of young professionals who typically poll well with Obama. On the flip side, there a LOT of typical southern Republicans who are going to vote for McCain no matter what.

Look at the graph of the polls from www.electoral-vote.com.

McCain was holding onto a slim margin from mid June to the end of August. Then he takes a huge lead. The curve is moving back toward the middle, but this state is listed as Strong Republican now.

Was this a Palin/Convention bump that will evaporate after the debates?

Is this the true nature of the voters in NC finally coming through, and earlier polls were not representative of the state as a whole?

What’s going on here? I live here and I can’t figure it out. We were getting TONs of Presidential ads during the Olympics, but that’s fallen way off in recent weeks.

Honestly, I have NO idea what’s the story in NC. According to RCP, here’s the latest North Carolina numbers:

CNN/Time: McCain +1
Research 2000: McCain +17
Civitas/TelOpinion ®: McCain +3
Public Policy Polling (D): McCain +4
SurveyUSA: McCain +20

In case you didn’t know, the ®/(D) represent partisan polling outfits which the webmaster for Electoral Vote doesn’t include. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong, just that he feels better not using potentially biased data.

So what’s going on? Sure, PPP shows the Democratic nearly tied but so does the Republican firm. CNN has it nearly a tie as well. But then SurveyUSA & Research2000 are waaayyyy the hell out there in the +20 neighborhood. Obviously someone is an outlier but… who? Both sides have multiple polls backing them up.

CNN/Time was ~900 registered voters, the other four were all ~600 “likely” voters. Which might partially explain the difference between CNN/Time and the rest but still doesn’t answer the 17 point difference between the rest of them.

No clue. I’m sure all sides would like to see some more numbers come out of the state.

Last night, I hears Scott Rasmussen & John Zogby on Sean Hannity’s program and they mentioned North Carolina. Rasmussen seemed skeptical that Obama could take it, especially with the addition of Sarah Palin to the ticket. Zogby said that he still say the state as “purple” and pointed to the African-American vote combined with the influx of “Creative Class” college educated whites moving into the state.

I don’t think many people from north carolina have any expectation that the vote in their state will even be close. Obama loses NC by at least 8 points. Any poll that suggests otherwise is either optimistic, or wrong.

I would have agreed 9 months ago when everyone was kind of blah about the Primary since ours was in May and pretty much everyone thought it would be over by then.

But instead it was still so close that NC was getting a lot of attention and people really came out to vote. I think if NC was in the news as a ‘battleground state’ that people would get excited and it actually could be close.

It’s just such a massive divide here from cities and country. I know it’s like that everywhere, but it seems especially true in NC. Greensboro, Raleigh, Charlotte, Asheville, Winston Salem, et al probably all have Obama at 60%+. Here in Greensboro I wouldn’t be surprised if it neared 70%. But once you step out side of the city limits, hoooo boy, Republican central.

That’s the pattern everywhere, not just in NC.

I don’t have much insight as to the reason, but it happened in the last national election, too. I remember going to a couple of concerts that were planned as swing state appeals, but by the time they rolled around Kerry wasn’t anywhere close. They were turned into support rallies for Erksine Bowles’s Senate race instead.

I’m one of the many who thought North Carolina might go Dem this time, for a lot of reasons, but it doesn’t look that way. If it does it will be part of such a landslide that it won’t make much difference.

Yes, but’s that’s true to a greater extent in NC than in the rest of the South, at least. And the reason is that in North Carolina cities, it’s not just African-Americans who vote Democratic. There’s a substantial population of educated whites from other parts of the country, for example in the Research Triangle Park area.


Wow! New polling today shows NC is now almost a dead heat! That’s quite a turn around. The newest national polls show Obama retaking a lead (though still statistically even). I expect the electoral map to re-equilibrate soon too.

There’s been a strong influx of Northerners into NC in the last decade or so, driven by economic development and a fine climate, and that may be starting to tip the poll numbers. Relatives of mine who moved down there from NJ not long ago tell me they have trouble even finding anyone actually originally from there.

Yeah, because electoral-vote.com averages all the polls from the last two weeks, the Palin bump will move through their projections like a hamster moving through a king snake.

I don’t think I’ve seen any polls showing an Obama lead in NC. There’s been plenty that have him within striking distance, but I’ve never seen him “close the deal”.

I’d love to see it happen, though. If Obama wins NC, it’s pretty much guaranteed that he’s won Virginia as well. If he gets both those, plus Florida and Pennsylvania, I’ll be able to start celebrating relatively early (due to the time zone differences). Those four, plus the solid blue states on the east coast give him enough that he only needs the pretty damn solid combination of Illinois, California, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii to reach 270. Does anyone have a good list of state-by-state poll closing times?

The McCain big numbers (SUSA’s +20 and Research 2000’s +17) came at the peak of the Palin hype. There are few places where her religious conservatism would play better than in NC (mind you some where it played as well) and the economy had not yet had its explosion.

Now people are getting a better look at Palin and as they do so her favorability ratings have dropped significantly (she now has the lowest of the four on the tickets). More so those “family value” issues have receded in importance compared to the economy, and Obama-Biden is rated higher there than McCain-Palin by a long shot.

That all said, this circumstance is probably as Obama leaning as it will get for NC and if under these circumstances we can only get PPP (which apparently has a slight D bias) to a tie then NC seems a bit of a longshot … unless something happens to get the RR to sit on their hands while Obama’s base (often not counted as “likely voters” as they did not vote in the last Presidential cycle) comes out in a absurdly high percentage. Not impossible but that enough to pull it off? Probably not. IMHO.

As of right now, both Intrade and FiveThirtyEight have NC solidly red, but are showing an overall win for Obama.

Obama is in North Carolina right now (he was speaking in Charlotte this morning) so clearly he still thinks it’s worth persuing.


What the polling operations aren’t telling you is that they know their polling methodology is flawed.

Last week some pundit on CNN was saying that the polling doesn’t accurately account for first time voters, the student vote and people who don’t have land line phones. If that’s the case, think about it. Would one suspect that voters who fall in that category might heavily favor Obama?

This would help to explain why the polls seem to be getting less accurate rather than more accurate and there is more discrepancy between different polls.

I think this election may rest on how well Obama gets out the new, young voters. I worry that the Republicans know this and will do their best to suppress that vote with a lot of problems at the polling places.

This. Sometime back, some smart people in the government realized that our future was not in textiles or furniture, and so attempted to bring technology and commerce to the state. In the next year, Greensboro will have it’s very own Nanotech Research center, which will complete a corridor from the mountain tip of the State to the coast. In theory, North Carolina should have been devastated by the move of textiles and furniture manufacturing overseas, and while it has hurt some areas significantly like High Point, overall we are going strong because we have so much tech work. North Carolina was one of the least affected states by the housing market, and in a lot of areas they weren’t affected at all. Coupled with all of the major universities (Wake Forest, Duke, NC State, UNC, all of the other just-as-good schools like UNCG, UNC-Ch, NC A&T, UNC Wilmington, ECU, etc) the cities are full of either college students, tech workers, or professors. In between the cities is the other major part of NC, agriculture and blue color work. It’s a vast divide, one that just doesn’t happen in too many states.

Just as a point of follow-up data, Rasmussen released a McCain +3 for the state today.

Public Policy Polling has it a tie, 46-46.


I live in NC too (as a Damn Yankee) and as I see it, a lot of active and retired military here will vote McCain because of his military background. A lot of rednecks will not vote for Obama for redneck reasons. A LOT of Blacks will vote for Obama for racial pride reasons. I doubt that a lot of the polling includes a representative ratio of Blacks. I do not plan to make a wager on either one.