Raleigh – The failed launch of the Obamacare website is acting like gravity for the approval ratings of democrats in Washington D.C.
***Listen to the Story***
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/
(Just got back from a busy day at the station: a fire on campus, a bus accident, and Bryn Renner’s injured shoulder, plus it was Election Day on top of it all. I fear this Blog-A-Day post will be light on the content. Oh well. If this doesn’t satisfy, there’s always tomorrow. Or later today, as the case may be.)
Election Night is over. Is there anything left to say?
Nothing we didn’t expect. (I think most people expected a closer battle for fourth place in the Town Council race, but even that was only a matter of degree.) All told, it was a pretty clear victory for the status quo in Orange County: every incumbent won easily and turnout was low. Often we take low turnout to mean that voters are dissatisfied, but in this case the apathy seems to indicate that Orange voters are basically fine with things as they are.
But there is that tenor of discontent in Chapel Hill–especially in the areas of Central West and Southern Village/Obey Creek, where the biggest development debates are either on deck or already underway. Those are the precincts where Amy Ryan beat Maria Palmer–Palmer won everywhere else–and Central West is also where a greater percentage of voters wrote in a name for mayor (presumably Tom Henkel) rather than vote for Mark Kleinschmidt.
So neither of those discussions will be going away anytime soon, and we already knew that too. The ‘vocal minority’ speaking out against Central West is a minority of the town as a whole, but a pretty sizable percentage (a majority? not sure) of residents living in that immediate area. Same goes for Obey Creek: most Chapel Hillians will probably be fine with whatever happens there, but residents in (and around) Southern Village will be more on their guard.
So that interesting philosophical question is going to keep coming up: how much do we weigh the interests and opinions of those who are likely to be most heavily affected by a given policy? And for that matter–following that vein–how do we weigh the interests/opinions of those who are affected by a policy but don’t have a say in the electoral process? Carrboronians too will be impacted by what happens at Obey Creek and Central West, no less than Chapel Hillians, but they don’t get to vote for the people who make those decisions. (Likewise, Orange County residents didn’t have much of a say in Chatham’s decision to site a Walmart along 15/501.) Do elected officials have a responsibility to think about those folks too–or are they only to concern themselves with the interests of those inside their own borders?
Those are interesting questions, but it’s too late for me to even think about how to answer them. For now, just congratulations to all the winning candidates, incumbents and newcomers alike.
Now. How ’bout that UNC basketball team!http://chapelboro.com/columns/aaron-keck/election-2013-post-mortem-thoughts/
CHAPEL HILL – Mark Kleinschmidt received 89.7 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, easily winning his third term as Chapel Hill’s mayor.
Kleinschmidt thanked the community for the turnout during the elections.
“First of all I want to say how grateful I am for the support that the community showed, and I’m very grateful for being re-elected,” Kleinschmidt said. “I always said that there are about 20 percent of people who vote in Chapel Hill who will never vote for me ever, and well, I beat that.”
Along with incumbents Sally Greene and Ed Harrison, two newcomers will be joining the council. Maria Palmer and George Cianciolo beat out Loren Hintz and Amy Ryan. Kleinschmidt said he was pleased by the outcome.
“I’m really surprised, although I think that the ultimate results reflect the strong campaigns, particularly of the top six vote getters, all the way down from the four winners through Amy and Loren,” said Kleinschmidt. “I think we had some great campaigns that really engaged the community. I’m really looking forward to working with this set.”
Although Kleinschmidt was running unopposed, 500 people wrote in another name. Some of those may have been the result of a last minute write-in campaign from people upset with how the Central West development has been handled. Kleinschmidt says he’s glad to hear feedback from people about the Central West area.
“Well I’m glad folks are engaged, the only thing that’s kind of disturbed me at all are some of the ways that this process has been described inaccurately,” Kleinschmidt said.
He stressed that the Central West plan is general guidance for future development and it has not been approved by the town council.
For his third term, Kleinschmidt says he is looking forward to working on the plan to redevelop the Ephesus Church-Fordham Boulevard area.
“One of the things I’ve been working on really hard for the last four years is getting work done on the Ephesus Church – Fordham Boulevard district,” said Kleinschmidt. “That’s actually a really exciting project that’s going to give real meat to the words that have been said by almost everyone who’s ever run for council or mayor for the last 15 years, that they want to enhance our commercial tax base.”
Prior to being elected as mayor in 2009, Kleinschmidt served on the council from 2001-2009.http://chapelboro.com/2013-election-central/2013-election-mayors/mayor-kleinschmidt-wins-third-term/
CARRBORO – Election Day in Carrboro was an anticlimactic affair, as all three incumbents won reelection to the Board of Aldermen.
With five candidates in the race for three seats, the leading vote-getter was Jacqueline Gist, the Board’s longest-serving member. Gist won 1,657 votes, about 28.5 percent of the overall total. Just behind her in second was Randee Haven-O’Donnell, who won a third term on the Board with 1,548 votes. In third was Sammy Slade, who won his second term with 1,505 votes.
First-time candidate Kurt Stolka finished well behind in fourth with 643 votes, more than 800 behind Slade. Al Vickers took fifth with 406 votes.
It was a victory for the status quo in Carrboro—and Jacqueline Gist says that’s a sign residents are happy with the direction the town is taking.
“I’d been worried about low voter turnout,” she says, “(but) then somebody said to me, ‘well, you know that means people aren’t mad about anything’…
“People seem to like the direction the town’s heading in.”
Also in Carrboro, Alderman Lydia Lavelle easily won election as mayor with more than 96 percent of the vote—no surprise, as she was running unopposed. She’ll replace Mark Chilton, who’s stepping down as mayor after four terms.
But election season isn’t quite over in Carrboro: Lavelle’s victory means there will be an open spot on the Board of Aldermen when she takes her seat as mayor in December. Board members will need to decide whether to fill that seat by appointment or by special election; if the town holds a special election, it will likely take place at the same time as the general statewide primary on May 6.
Kurt Stolka suggested he may throw his hat in the ring for that seat, but hasn’t announced definitively yet.http://chapelboro.com/2013-election-central/2013-election-boa/incumbents-and-lavelle-win-easily-in-carrboro/
With Election Day upon us here in Orange County, I think I speak for all of us when I say to each of this year’s candidates:
Good Lord, people! Why you got to be so nice?
I mean, seriously, guys. You are making my job impossible. As a journalist, I belong to a large and long-established coterie of highly-trained professionals who spend each and every waking moment tirelessly documenting every gaffe, every verbal slapfight, every well-rehearsed zinger that passes a politician’s lips. My livelihood depends on my ability to document those moments when candidates and Council members interrupt each other, wag their fingers, raise their voices and refuse to cede the floor. I’m racked with despair if I can’t rush on the air with allegations of scandal or vague hints of borderline misconduct bolstered by a ten-second sound bite of shocked chagrin from the leader of the opposition.
I need red meat, you guys. And it’s your job to give it to me.
But instead, what do I get?
I get people who like each other.
Twenty-four candidates in this race, twenty-four, and not a single cutthroat in the lot. I’m seeing Facebook pictures of George Cianciolo and Loren Hintz, candidates who ought to be out digging through each other’s garbage, instead standing together, in public no less, laughing about some shared joke and calmly discussing serious issues as if they were the best friends in the world. Bah! I’m hearing Andrew Davidson, asked why he’s the best school board candidate in the race, responding “I don’t think I am the best candidate. I think Michelle Brownstein is the best candidate.” What?! HUMBUG!
Have you people learned nothing from Washington? From Raleigh?
That’s how politics is done, folks.
God, it’s like you’re watching Congress and the NCGA and then deliberately doing the opposite.
And I for one have had it.
So here’s my challenge to you. We’ve got one day left to salvage this. One day left to have a real, hard-fought, knock-down, drag-out, yelling-screaming, accusation-hurling, life-ruining, campaign-finance-law-breaking election. Like our Founding Fathers intended.
Happy nicey-nice time is over.
So. First things first. I want to see you fight. No more of this “oh, I totally agree” or “that’s a very good point” or “I want to piggyback on what Sammy just said, because I think it’s really important.” Twaddle! These people are your enemies. They must be opposed, blocked, and thwarted at every turn. You work with them? You serve on boards with them? You like them? Forget that. You hate them. They are evil. Whatever comes out of their mouths, you disagree with it. And act shocked that they’d even think such a thing. Even if it was your idea in the first place. You don’t hear Mitt Romney or the Heritage Foundation running around going “I want to piggyback on Obamacare,” do you? Ha!
Repeat after me:
“My opponent is completely out of touch with Chapel Hill.”
“Sounds like she wants to turn us into Cary.”
“That’s exactly the kind of thinking that brought all the flooding in the first place.”
“Man, if I were the CEO of Walmart, I’d sure be out campaigning for my opponent!”
This would have been a much better forum with at least one angrily overturned chair.
Next. I want attack ads. Enough of this take-the-high-road crap. I don’t want to be able to turn on my TV or open up my Web browser without hearing how some candidate’s going to let the terrorists win.
And zingers. Real good zingers.
“Weaver? More like WAFFLER!”
“When it comes to Chapel Hill, Sally’s a bit too GREENE.”
“Running for Council? Cianci-OH NO!”
Honestly, people, this is not that hard.
So there you have it. We’ve got less than a day to turn this thing around. I’m counting on you. And so are all those good, patriotic Americans out there who won’t vote unless they have a terrible, inane, stupid reason for doing so.
Make it happen, people. You’ve been doing us proud for months now. Enough of that. Take a page from DC. Take a page from Raleigh.
It’s Election Day.
Do us ashamed.http://chapelboro.com/columns/aaron-keck/its-election-day-start-fighting-already/
WINSTON-SALEM – Experts in government law say the chairman of the Watauga County Board of Elections broke no state law when he asked that a heated discussion during a board meeting be dropped from the minutes.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that UNC School of Government Professor Frayda Bluestein said the board can limit the detail in the official minutes as it sees fit.
After board chairman Luke Eggers learned that a first draft of the meeting minutes contained a description of the discussion at the Aug. 12 meeting, he requested that it not be used.
Board member Kathleen Campbell said the parts of the earlier meeting erased from the minutes include her question on how much money would be saved by consolidating precincts, eliminating a polling location at Appalachian State University.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/experts-say-watauga-elections-board-broke-no-law/
ORANGE COUNTY – The Orange County Board of Elections approved the four locations where you can do your early voting this year. The locations still need approval by the state’s Board of Elections.
Early voting starts October 17 and continues until November 2. There is no early voting on the weekends, with the exception of November 2, which is a Saturday. The General Assembly’s bill that would shorten early voting periods would not affect these dates.
Hillsborough voters can vote at the Board of Elections office at 208 S. Cameron Street, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. On November 2, the polling site is only open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Carrboro Town Hall and the Rams Head Dining Hall, located at 320 Ridge Road in Chapel Hill, are both open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except on November 2 when it is only open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Chapel Hill voters can also go to the Seymour Senior Center at 2551 Homestead Road. The site is open from noon to 6:00 p.m., except on November 2 when it is only open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Absentee voting is still available, with ballots available at the Orange County Board of Elections website. Ballots should be mailed to PO Box 220, Hillsborough, N.C., 27278.http://chapelboro.com/news/election/county-board-approves-early-voting-locations/
CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board chair Michelle Brownstein is running for re-election and says the state-level cuts that will affect the 2013-14 budget will have deep impacts on local schools, especially with around 80 percent of the budget going to personnel.
“Our state government, at least with the budget they just passed, while I’m waiting for the final translation of that from our budget office, I’m concerned that we’re going to end up not having the funds to keep all the positions we have,” Brownstein says. “It’ll mean bigger classrooms, less teachers, less support for teachers.”
Brownstein says that one of her biggest accomplishments as chair of the school board is raising awareness about illiteracy and instituting programs to improve reading ability among students.
“I think that’s critical, in terms of making sure all kids can then get a year’s worth of growth,” Brownstein says. “And then the kids that are behind, which is really important, need to get advanced growth, and the only way they’re going to be able to do that is if they can read well.”
Brownstein says her other biggest accomplishment on the board is hiring Thomas Forcella as the CHCCS superintendent. She says his plans for the future of the area are the same as hers and he has only begun to implement them.
“He’s starting his third year now and that really is right when he’s going to begin to execute his long-range plan that’s going to move our district forward, I think, on multiple levels,” Brownstein says.
As a first-term member of the board, Brownstein says that she herself has only begun to implement her vision as CHCCS board chair.
“Being on the board just one term barely gets you going,” Brownstein says.
Election Day in November 5.
ORANGE COUNTY – Election Day is only a few months away, and soon you will have the opportunity to see your candidates discuss the issues live.
Orange County political blog OrangePolitics is hosting four candidate forums for each of the municipal and school board elections.
The forums will be broadcast online in real time and candidates will respond to questions submitted by OrangePolitics readers and selected by the forums’ moderators.
The first forum for Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board candidates will be moderated by juvenile criminal law professor at UNC, Barbara Fedders, on September 22.
Next will be a forum for the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners candidates, moderated by News of Orange editor Vanessa Shortley, on September 29.
Both the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and the Chapel Hill Town Council candidates’ forums will be moderated by Carolina Mercury editor and current Independent Weekly columnist, Kirk Ross, on October 6 and 13 respectively.
And finally, there will be a conversation with the three mayoral candidates for Hillsborough, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill on October 20, moderated by outgoing Carrboro mayor, Mark Chilton. This will be an informal discussion, as all three candidates are running unopposed.
Each event will go from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and can be seen on orangepolitics.org.http://chapelboro.com/news/election/election-candidates-to-discuss-issues-online/
CHAPEL HILL – With growth in your community concerning some residents, two candidates for Town Council are making the issue a large part of their campaigns.
Political campaign consultant and professor at UNC and NC State, Jonathan Riehl, says this is an issue in the forefront of many residents’ minds.
“While there has been a good amount of planning that has gone into developing, for example, the 2020 plan, I’m certainly hearing that there’s a lot of questions that remain from folks who’ve been here their entire lives about what the impact of this growth is going to be and how fast it’s going to happen,” Riehl says.
Community Design Commission and Central West Steering Committee member, Amy Ryan, says Chapel Hill has offered its citizens a lot over the years and the challenge is to maintain that in the wake of population and development growth.
“People expect a lot out of their town government here, so I think living up to that expectation is a challenge,” Ryan says. “We have fiscal challenges now. We’ve got state and federal funding cuts.”
Riehl says these fears about growth are compounded by concerns that storms and dangerous weather appear to be more frequent around the country and Chapel Hill is not exempt from that.
“The pace of development around town continues, and on the path it’s been going, we don’t know what kind of effects that’s going to have on things like these catastrophic environmental events, which are no longer what they used to call ‘100 year events,’” Riehl says.
While community members have been encouraged to get involved in Chapel Hill’s development planning, Ryan says the Town Council needs to include residents in the discussion when the actual developments start.
“I think it’s really important that we keep extending that community process forward as we talk about these important issues,” Ryan says.
Riehl has worked on federal-level political campaigns but says he has never tried running for office himself.
“Things seemed to line up right and I decided to try and take some of the professional experience I’ve had working in politics and try and put that into practice right here in our home,” Riehl says.
Ryan says her time on the different local boards, especially the steering committee, has given her long exposure to the same issues the town council would need to decide on in the future.
“Having that background in design and development issues helps me really understand those issues and the history behind them and helps Chapel Hill find a good way forward,” Ryan says.
There are four seats on the Chapel Hill Town Council available, with only two incumbents running in this election. Election Day is November 5.http://chapelboro.com/news/election/chapel-hill-candidates-concerned-about-growth/