We’re two states into the 2016 presidential primary cycle, and uncertainty continues to reign on both sides.
On the Republican front, Donald Trump followed up his disappointing second-place showing in Iowa with a convincing victory in New Hampshire – a win that was utterly unsurprising (all the polls predicted it) but still gave him a momentum boost heading into the lull before Nevada and South Carolina.
Meanwhile, Ted Cruz – who’s appealing mostly to evangelical conservatives and voters who aren’t sure Trump is right-wing enough – followed up his impressive Iowa performance with an equally unsurprising poor showing in New Hampshire. (New Hampshire voters tend to be less religious and more libertarian.) He’ll be on more comfortable ground when the campaign heads to South Carolina, but Trump still leads in the polls there.
Marco Rubio appeared poised to make big gains in New Hampshire after a strong Iowa caucus, but finished fifth after a disastrous performance in a nationally-televised debate (where he kept repeating the same scripted anti-Obama zinger, even while Chris Christie was simultaneously criticizing him for his reliance on scripted lines). His status in future states will depend on how well he can recover: the last presidential candidate who made such a gaffe in a debate was Rick Perry in 2012, and his campaign never rebounded.
Chris Christie and John Kasich, both moderates (relatively, at least), banked all their presidential hopes on New Hampshire. Christie clearly won the pre-primary debate by getting to Rubio, but it was Kasich who appears to have been the beneficiary: Kasich took advantage of Rubio’s slip by finishing second, while Christie polled well behind the frontrunners and left the race the next day. Will Kasich be able to carry that momentum forward to Nevada and South Carolina? Unlikely: Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen says Kasich devoted all his attention to New Hampshire, so while he had strong support there, he has almost no support in any other state. (Jensen says Kasich is focusing on Michigan next, bypassing several other states in the process – not a winning strategy for president, but Jensen says it may be a good strategy if Kasich is seeking the vice presidency.)
Ben Carson and Jeb Bush are also running for president.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders continues to build momentum with stronger-than-expected showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. The polls were mostly correct, though – Sanders outperformed expectations in both states, but pre-election surveys did generally predict a tight race in Iowa and an easy Sanders win in New Hampshire. And if the polls are to be trusted, that doesn’t bode well for Sanders nationwide: Hillary Clinton still has a sizable lead in most other states, driven largely by a huge advantage among black voters. (PPP’s latest national survey has Clinton leading Sanders 82-8 among African-American Democrats.)
Because of her advantage among black voters, Jensen says Clinton is almost certain to win the Democratic primary in South Carolina, where African-Americans will comprise more than half the electorate – and while it’s a little less definite, she also has the inside track to win Nevada, which has a larger minority population than Iowa or New Hampshire. (Though that isn’t saying much.) Sanders still has the clear momentum in the race, though, and he has a full week to campaign in Nevada (a caucus state) before voters head to the polls. (Also worth noting: Nevada’s caucus is restricted to Democrats only, while South Carolina’s primary is open to independents. Clinton generally leads Sanders among registered Democrats, while Sanders leads Clinton among independent voters – so Sanders benefits from open primaries, while Clinton benefits from closed primaries.)
PPP director Tom Jensen spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.
Finally, Jensen says it’s worth noting that – in contrast to 2008 – the GOP primaries drew more voters than the Democratic primaries in both Iowa and New Hampshire. That’s an indication that Republicans are more excited about voting this year – and both Iowa and New Hampshire are potential swing states in the general election, so that may not be good news for Democrats. (On the other hand, the GOP race has drawn a lot more media attention – and it’s still much more competitive, even as Sanders continues to gain on Clinton – so Jensen says the larger GOP vote may be driven by other factors too. Time will tell.)http://chapelboro.com/news/election/ppp-dem-race-still-clintons-to-lose-gop-race-up-in-the-air
RALEIGH – A poll released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling shows the president’s approval rating stalled at his lowest point.
That’s because his biggest domestic policy achievement continues to hold his numbers down.
The Affordable Care Act remains unpopular with most voters surveyed by PPP, and Democrats everywhere are taking the hit.
Tom Jensen, director of Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling, breaks it down.
“We continue to find Barack Obama with some of the lowest numbers he’s had since taking office,” says Jensen. “Only 41 percent of voters approve of the job he’s doing nationally. Fifty-three percent disapprove.”
That 41 percent mark, for the second month in a row, matches the lowest number for the president in the PPP survey.
The numbers for Democrats, in general, are sinking. Republicans now have a slight lead in a generic congressional ballot, 42-to-40. That’s a seven-point shift from the height of the government shutdown in October.
The Affordable Care Act appears to be the biggest drag on their approval rating. Only 38 percent of voters like the ACA, with 52 percent opposed. Only 32 percent think it’s been implemented successfully, while 62 percent do not.
But Jensen says that two issues may signal a bright side for Democrats.
“We find that a couple of the things that Barack Obama might emphasize this year are really quite popular,” says Jensen. “When it comes to extending unemployment benefits, 63 percent of voters think they should be extended. Only 32 percent think they should be cut off.”
Plus, the Democrats have the upper hand when it comes to raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour.
“Fifty-five percent of voters support that,” says Jensen. “Only 36 percent are opposed.”
With that in mind, Jensen says the president should try to take the focus off Obamacare, if he’d like to see his numbers improve.
“He needs to find some issues where he can get some support across party lines,” says Jensen.
WASHINGTON — Republicans count enough competitive races to challenge Democrats for control of the Senate in next year’s elections. But tea party challenges will make it complicated for them.
Many Republicans worry about crowded primaries in states such as Georgia, Iowa and North Carolina where tea partyers and social conservatives are fighting for the nomination. Some feel tea party victors in similar fights prevented Republicans from winning a Senate majority in 2010 and again in 2012.
Democrats hold an effective 55-45 edge in the Senate now. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to capture control. The numbers favor them. Democrats will be defending 21 of 35 seats to be decided next November. President Barack Obama’s falling popularity and the unpopularity of his health care law also could help GOP candidates.http://chapelboro.com/news/national/gop-can-count-ways-senate-majority
Raleigh – The failed launch of the Obamacare website is acting like gravity for the approval ratings of democrats in Washington D.C.
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Senator Kay Hagan’s approval ratings are changing, but Public Policy Polling Analyst Jim Williams says they’re not going the direction the Hagan administration would prefer.
“We had found Kay Hagan with a small, but consistent lead throughout most of this year,” Williams says, “We’re finding now that it’s really kind of crept into a statistical tie at this point.”
The poll shows Hagan in a dead heat with her prospective 2014 opponents; coming in no more than three points ahead of state House Speaker Tom Tillis, Heather Grant, and Rev. Mark Harris. And she’s trailing one point behind Greg Brannon.
So what’s the force behind the trend?
“That stems probably from the botched roll out of the Obamacare website,” says Williams.
The website has been a nightmare for the faces of the Democratic Party since healthcare.gov opened its marketplace for federal health insurance on October 1.
“Obama’s approval rating in September was 48 percent approve, 29 percent disapprove,” Williams says, “Now it’s down to 43 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove.”
Williams says North Carolinians have responded negatively to the health care plan they were already skeptical of in the first place.
“Obamacare has never been particularly popular in North Carolina, but now only 38 percent of voters say they approve of it, compared to 48 percent who disapprove,” Williams says.
“Even worse 69 percent of voters say its rollout has been unsuccessful so far.”
The 2014 senate election is still a year away. Williams says there’s a large group of undecided voters who could come to Hagan’s rescue.
“The race is sort of unformed as far as the senate race,” Williams says, “A lot of the folks who either are running or may run are not well-known to the voters yet; so that’s why you’re seeing high numbers of undecided voters.”
Senator Hagan originally supported the Affordable Care Act. But she announced Tuesday that she is asking for an investigation of the failed website launch.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/sen-hagan-approval-slipping-in-wake-of-obamacare-web-launch
North Carolina – Voter turnout this election year was low, but that won’t stop members of the Democratic Party from making bold predictions about their opponents’ futures.
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Randy Voller is the Chair of the North Carolina State Democratic Party, and he says he and his party’s supporters should be pleased with last week’s election results.
“We pretty much swept all the races across the state, and in the big cities,” Voller says.
Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham, and Sanford are a few cities included on his list of successes for the Democratic Party in this year’s municipal elections. So what went right for the candidates dressed in blue?
“Tuesday night was a referendum on what the mood of the electorate is in our cities,” Voller says, “The mood was to elect democrats and democrat city counsels across the state, especially in our bigger cities from Asheville to Wilmington.”
Voller says that mood was set by both federal and state government actions and events.He says the government shutdown and structural issues nationally had an effect on this election.
But Voller says events closer to home, within North Carolina’s state government, had a heavy influence on voters’ decisions as well.
“I think the interference in local control by the general assembly probably was on a lot of people’s minds,” Voller says, “There are a number of places where the general assembly got involved in local issues which traditionally they would not have done.”
Voller says he thinks the results in this election are foreshadowing future setbacks for opponents of the Democratic Party.
“I think what happened in Charlotte, where the republicans invested heavily and lost, is a bell-weather for 2014,” Voller says. And he has a message for voters not following his flock.
“If your stance is, ‘I don’t believe in government, or government doesn’t work, or we should privatize government,’ you’re probably on the defense right now,” Voller says.http://chapelboro.com/news/election/democratic-party-chair-pleased-with-election-results
CHAPEL HILL – Moral Monday protests that continue to bring attention to new bills, received national attention on the Ed Schultz show Monday afternoon. Schultz says that several of his colleagues have been “Frothing at the Mouth” over Moral Mondays.
“Moral Monday, there are going to be some more people who are going to be arrested today down in North Carolina, and why would you want to take away the hopes and dreams of a young person or someone that would be actively involved?” said Schultz.
North Carolina Senate Democratic leader, Martin Nesbitt, joined Schultz on the show and discussed the current law that the General Assembly passed regarding voter IDs.
“Cut back a week of early voting, eliminate straight ticket voting, counties can’t extend the poll hours on Election Day in response to long lines, eliminate pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, bans voter registration drives, by the calculation of the people who know we think the changes will about 416,000 hours to North Carolina’s voting process” Nesbitt commented.
The new Voter ID bill is just one of many bills that have passed. Many people like Ed Schultz, Martin Nesbitt, and Moral Monday protesters say they disagree with the laws. Nesbitt says passing unpopular bills could hurt a party’s chance for re-election.
“And the legislature rating is down around 20 percent right now, the margin on a generic ballot for the legislature is nine points to the democrats, the highest it has ever been since public policy polling asked the question” Nesbitt said.
Nesbitt references that Carter Wrenn said the Republicans shouldn’t think they won’t lose it as quick as they won elections while on WCHL’s show, Who’s Talking with DG Martin. Republicans in office have been under fire from many different groups like the Moral Monday protesters, Democrats in office, and the media. Nesbitt says Republicans have been hard to find toward the end of session.
“They’re, they about gone silent now, they use to get on and brag and do this sort of thing, and now they just kind of gone silent and they continue to do what they had to do and pursue this agenda, and once again I think the plan is just lay low and express the vote and hope nobody comes get us” Nesbitt remarked.
Governor Pat McCrory will have many bills to either veto or pass in the near future.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/moral-monday-getting-national-attention-with-ed-schultz