Local Dems In Philly For DNC, Excited For Hillary

Acknowledging the historic nature of her nomination (“When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit”) and frequently calling out her opponent (“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons”), Hillary Clinton on Thursday officially accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

And inside the Wells Fargo Center, Orange County was very well represented.

DNC delegates from Orange County include Jeff DeLuca, county party chair Matt Hughes, County Commissioner Penny Rich, and State Representative Graig Meyer – and in addition to the official delegates, numerous other local residents were on hand as observers, including Margot Lester of the Word Factory.

WCHL’s Aaron Keck has been speaking to members of the Orange County delegation all week. On Thursday, before Clinton took the stage, he spoke with Rep. Meyer and Margot Lester to get their thoughts about the week so far – and their feelings about the upcoming general election campaign.

Listen to Aaron’s conversation with Graig Meyer…


…and with Margot Lester.


Visit Chapelboro.com and tune into WCHL all campaign long for more local election coverage – and visit this page to hear Aaron’s conversations from earlier this week, with Jeff DeLuca and Matt Hughes.


Election 2016: PPP Says Don’t Freak Out About Polls – Yet

It’s still too early to be sure how the Republican convention has affected the presidential race, but it’s probably safe to say Donald Trump will get a fairly significant bounce in the national polls. That’s what we typically see in the days immediately following a national party convention – and while the RNC had its chaotic moments, Trump himself gave a speech that was generally well-reviewed. (Relative, at least, to his usual efforts.)

But should this be a major concern for Democrats and #NeverTrumpers? Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen says no – at least, not yet.

Jensen says PPP is still finding the 2016 race shaping up much like the 2012 race, with Trump and Hillary Clinton polling about the same, from state to state, as Mitt Romney and Barack Obama did four years ago. Trump will get a post-convention bounce in the polls – he’ll likely take the lead in some surveys, if not all – but Clinton will almost certainly get a post-convention bounce of her own in a week.

And even though Election Day is rapidly approaching, Jensen says it’s still too early for the polls to be a reliable indicator of the final outcome. (Pre-RNC polls showed Clinton with about a four-point lead on Trump. That’s roughly the same lead Obama had on John McCain at the same stage in 2008, the same lead Obama had on Romney at the same stage in 2012 – and the same lead John Kerry had on George W. Bush at the same stage in 2004.)

Tom Jensen spoke last Thursday with WCHL’s Aaron Keck, a few hours before Trump’s convention speech.


Jensen says one thing is pretty certain, though: North Carolina will be a pivotal swing state in the presidential race, possibly even the decisive state. (So expect a lot of candidate visits – and irritating campaign ads – in the months to come.)


Republicans Unite Around Trump, But Clinton Still Has Edge

Donald Trump won the GOP presidential nomination over the loud objections of more than a few leading Republicans. But as our collective attention turns to the general election, most Republicans appear to be falling in line behind the nominee – even if they’re gritting their teeth to do it.

A national survey this week from Public Policy Polling finds Hillary Clinton with a four-point edge on Trump, 42-38, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 4 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 2 percent. (Johnson and Stein are actually pulling more votes from Clinton than Trump; take them away and Clinton’s lead would jump to six points.)

For all the talk about GOP disunity, though, Trump gets almost exactly as much support from Republicans as Clinton gets from Democrats. Clinton leads Trump 78-9 among Democrats, while Trump leads Clinton 78-7 among Republicans; 72 percent of Republicans say they’re comfortable with Trump as their party’s nominee, while 75 percent of Democrats say they’re comfortable with Clinton. (The number of Republicans and Democrats who say they’re uncomfortable with their party’s frontrunner? Exactly the same in both parties, 21 percent.)

Get more numbers from PPP’s presidential survey here.

Those numbers may be disappointing to Democrats who were hoping for a fractured GOP this fall – but PPP director Tom Jensen says there’s plenty of good news here for Democrats too. For one, the undecided voters in a Clinton/Trump matchup tend to be supporters of Bernie Sanders – Clinton/Trump undecideds favor Sanders over Trump by a 41-8 margin – so if Clinton does end up winning the nomination, she may be able to expand her lead in a big way merely by winning over Sanders’ supporters. (The Clinton/Sanders race has been contentious, but Jensen says he does expect the party to come together sooner or later. At this time in 2008, he says, nearly half of Clinton’s supporters were telling pollsters they wouldn’t vote for Obama that fall – far more than the number of Sanders supporters who say they won’t support Clinton now – but almost all those voters did wind up supporting Obama in the end.)

And while Clinton’s popularity ratings remain low, Jensen says Trump’s are even lower: only 34 percent of voters approve of him, against 61 percent who disapprove. (And Trump’s supporters still tend to be on the fringes when it comes to their political views: nearly two-thirds of them say they think Barack Obama is a Muslim, for instance, and nearly three-fifths say they still don’t believe he was born in the US.) To drive home the point, PPP tested Trump in head-to-head matchups with other despised things: voters prefer lice to Donald Trump by a 54-28 margin, root canals to Donald Trump by a 49-38 margin, used car salesmen to Donald Trump by a 47-41 margin, and the band Nickelback to Donald Trump by a 39-34 margin.

(Trump does win head-to-head battles with cockroaches and hemorrhoids, though. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.)

Tom Jensen spoke Thursday with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


Jensen says even if the GOP does end up unifying around its nominee, Trump’s place at the top of the ballot may still haunt the party in the general election. Democrats lead Republicans 46-41 in a generic Congressional ballot – not enough of a lead for Democrats to regain control of the House of Representatives, but enough for Democrats to pick up several seats in both houses (and possibly retake the Senate). Voters also say (by a 45-26 margin) that they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate if that candidate endorses Trump for president.

Get more numbers on PPP’s Congressional survey here.

And the thought of Donald Trump in the White House is also making voters more likely to want the Senate to vote now on President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court. Only 38 percent of voters say they trust Trump to make a Supreme Court nomination, against 53 percent who don’t; 58 percent of Americans say they want the vacant seat filled this year (up slightly from two months ago); and 50 percent of voters say they’d be less likely to vote for a Senator if that Senator blocked Merritt Garland’s confirmation hearings. (Only 18 percent say they’d be more likely to vote for such a candidate.)

Get more numbers on PPP’s Supreme Court survey here.


Senator Richard Burr Endorses Donald Trump

Republican leaders, like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, are hesitant about endorsing Donald Trump, but that is not the case for one of North Carolina’s senators.

Senator Richard Burr announced his support for Trump via Twitter on Wednesday. He said in a tweet that he had always planned to support whoever became the Republican nominee. He also tweeted there would not be a third term for the Clinton/Obama Administration, using the #NeverHillary.

But according to a recent poll, that decision may not be popular with North Carolina voters. Public Policy Polling’s director Tom Jenson explains.

“That is a dangerous thing for Burr to be doing,” said Jenson. “We asked on a poll in North Carolina last month, if Richard Burr supported Donald Trump for president, would that make you more or less likely to vote for Burr, or would it not make a difference one way or the other?

“We found that for Burr, endorsing Trump was a 25 point negative. 25 percent more people said endorsing Trump would make them less likely to vote for Burr,” said Jenson.

Jenson predicts, however, that the presidential race will be a much closer contest than many are anticipating.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that good of a year for Democrats and I don’t think that Donald Trump is going to be nearly that bad of a candidate for the Republicans,” said Jenson.

Governor Pat McCrory has also said he would support Donald Trump if he was the Republican nominee.


North Carolina Voters Approve $2 Billion Connect NC Bond

North Carolinians voted to approve the Connect NC bond in Tuesday’s primary.

The $2 billion dollar bond will fund investments in the UNC system, community colleges, state parks, National Guard Facilities and water and sewage utilities. Those investments include a new Medical Education Building at UNC and improvements to Jordan Lake State Park and Eno River State Park.

The bond received support from both Democrats and Republicans ahead of the referendum.

The two billion dollar proposal would be the first general obligation bond in 15 years with the purpose of improving the state’s infrastructure.

Pat McCrory pitched the bond to UNC and Chapel Hill leaders in February. McCrory has said that the bond will not result in any new taxes and tax increases.

Opponents of the bond said it would leave debt to future generations.

View all of the Connect NC Bond projects.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt on the passage of the bond:

“I am so grateful to North Carolina’s voters for supporting higher education in such a wonderful way. It is a strong endorsement for the importance of having the very best facilities at Carolina to train more North Carolina doctors for our state.”

UNC System President Margaret Spellings released this statement Tuesday:

“This is a great day for the UNC system and all of North Carolina. We are grateful to the voters for approving the Connect NC Bond package and for their demonstration of support and confidence in our public University and community colleges. North Carolina is known for its longstanding commitment to public higher education, and the economic return on that investment has been tremendous. Today—at the ballot box—our citizens reaffirmed that historic commitment. With their votes, they said that higher education must continue to help meet the needs of the state and to open the doors of economic opportunity for their children and grandchildren.”


Remember Your Voter ID! But Why?

The 2016 primary election is the first in North Carolina where you’ll be required to show a valid ID in order to vote. (You can vote without one if there’s a “reasonable impediment” preventing you from obtaining one, but you’ll have to go through some red tape if that’s the case.)

Legislators say the voter-ID provision is designed to prevent voter fraud, and there’s something to be said for having safeguards in place. But is the cure worse than the disease? There have only been a handful of cases in North Carolina where an individual has tried passing themselves off as somebody else in order to vote – only two cases this century, in fact, out of about 35 million votes cast.

And the voter ID provision will make it demonstrably more difficult for many North Carolinians to vote. How many? Perhaps as many as half a million, a disproportionate number of which are black, female, and either young or elderly. Evidence is still unclear on the specific effect of voter ID laws on turnout, but there’s growing evidence that it does have a negative effect. (This in turn tends to benefit Republican candidates, and voter ID opponents argue that that’s the whole purpose of the law in the first place.)

More information on voter ID and turnout here

….and a lot more here.

So what should North Carolina do, when it comes to voting and voting restrictions? Orange County conservative Ashley DeSena and WCHL’s Aaron Keck (a progressive) discussed the issue on the air this week. (Both are skeptical of voter ID. Keck likes Oregon’s law that automatically registers you to vote when you turn 18, without your having to do anything; DeSena goes further, wondering why ‘registration’ is even necessary in the first place.)

Listen to their conversation.


2016 Election: BOCC At-Large Candidates Talk Issues

Early voting is underway now for the 2016 primary election, with a number of key races on the ballot. There’s the presidential race, the Senate race, and the “Connect NC” bond proposal – and at the local level, there are also four open seats on the Orange County Board of Commissioners, with nine candidates in the running. (All nine candidates are Democrats, so the BOCC races will be decided in the primary: whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be running unopposed in November.)

Find your Orange County early voting sites here.

Three of those nine candidates – Mark Marcoplos, Matt Hughes, and Andy Cagle – are competing for the at-large seat being vacated by outgoing Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier. Which candidate should get your vote? What do the candidates have to say about the future of Orange County?

On Monday, WCHL’s Aaron Keck welcomed Marcoplos, Hughes and Cagle to the studio for an informal, hour-long conversation about Orange County’s biggest issues.

Listen to the forum.


Last week, WCHL also hosted informal forums for the four candidates running for two seats representing District 1 and the two candidates running for a seat representing District 2.

Listen to the District 1 forum here.

Listen to the District 2 forum here.

Early voting runs through Saturday, March 12; primary day is Tuesday, March 15.


2016 Election: Price, Hauser Vie For BOCC District 2

Early voting is underway now for the 2016 primary election, with a number of key races on the ballot. There’s the presidential race, the Senate race, and the “Connect NC” bond proposal – and at the local level, there are also four open seats on the Orange County Board of Commissioners, with nine candidates in the running. (All nine candidates are Democrats, so the BOCC races will be decided in the primary: whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be running unopposed in November.)

Find your Orange County early voting sites here.

Two of those nine candidates are competing for a seat representing Orange County’s District 2, covering Hillsborough and unincorporated Orange County. Incumbent Renee Price is seeking her second term on the board; challenging her is Bonnie Hauser.

Which candidate should get your vote? What do the candidates have to say about the future of Orange County?

On Friday, WCHL’s Aaron Keck welcomed Price and Hauser to the studio for an informal, hour-long conversation about Orange County’s biggest issues. Part 1 of their forum focused on education and economic development; Part 2 focused on housing, transportation, firearm safety and solid waste.

Listen to Part 1.


Listen to Part 2.


Tune into WCHL on Monday at 3 pm, as Aaron hosts the three candidates vying for an at-large seat on the Board: Mark Marcoplos, Matt Hughes, and Andy Cagle.

Earlier this week, Aaron hosted the four candidates running for two open seats representing District 1: Mark Dorosin, Penny Rich, Jamezetta Bedford, and Gary Kahn. Listen to that forum here.

Early voting runs through Saturday, March 12; primary day is Tuesday, March 15.


McCrory Pitches $2 Billion Bond in Chapel Hill

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory was in Chapel Hill on Wednesday pitching the $2 billion bond proposal that will be on the March primary ballots across North Carolina.

A crowd that included Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, Durham Mayor Bill Bell, members of the North Carolina General Assembly and local county commissioners gathered at the Center for School Leadership Development next to the Friday Center on Wednesday as McCrory continued to tout the upcoming bond proposal.

Pat McCrory discussing the Connect NC Bond. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Pat McCrory discussing the Connect NC Bond. Photo via Blake Hodge.

McCrory said the bond is important for North Carolina’s future as the state continues to grow.

“Do we prepare for it, or do we react to it,” McCrory asked. “And I’m convinced you have to prepare. Those people who react, lose.”

North Carolina passed 10 million residents in late 2015 and is now the ninth most populous state in the nation.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt called this bond proposal a “partnership” between state leadership in Raleigh, community colleges and universities in the state and North Carolinians. Folt said this bond is badly needed to fund projects that will make a positive impact, pointing out that it has been 15 years since the last statewide bond.

“Probably everyone remembers it, but North Carolina passed the largest capital bond issued for higher education in the history of the United States,” Folt said. “And that was the last bond. That was the largest one in the country.

“I didn’t live here. I knew all about it. This made waves everywhere. It was of immense consequence. Other states, they were all looking at this.”

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt discussing the Connect NC Bond. Photo via Blake Hodge.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt discussing the Connect NC Bond. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Folt said that bond 15 years ago improved the entire higher education system in North Carolina and, in turn, the state as a whole.

McCrory said there were three strategies behind the bond: to keep up with population growth, to restore a crumbling infrastructure and to borrow while interest rates remain historically low.

McCrory continues to call the proposal a “sound financial model” as he says the multibillion-dollar proposal will not require a tax increase.

“Because we have not had a bond in 15 years, and those bonds are now being paid off,” McCrory said.

He added, “The debt from bonds will be less in five years than it is today, with the approval of this $2 billion in bonds.”

McCrory said that there was even room to borrow more money. At a UNC Board of Trustees meeting in November House Representative Dean Arp told the board the bond did not include more funding because lawmakers did not want to risk the bond not getting the approval of North Carolina voters.

A map of the Connect NC Bond projects. Photo via Blake Hodge.

A map of the Connect NC Bond projects. Photo via Blake Hodge.

The bond proposal covers wide-ranging issues, including the 17-campus university system, community colleges, parks and infrastructure.

At UNC, the bond money will be used to provide a new facility for the School of Medicine.

McCrory said he is proud of the bipartisan support the bond proposal has received.

Some have questioned whether the bond package is politically motivated during an election cycle that is expected to see a tight race for Governor between McCrory seeking a second term and a Democratic challenger, very likely to be Attorney General Roy Cooper. Other groups are urging voters to vote against the bond and to fund the projects on a pay-as-you-go plan rather than taking on debt.

North Carolinians will decide on whether to approve the $2 billion bond package during the March primary.

Get more information on the Connect NC Bond and the projects that would be funded.


Voter Registration Deadline Is Friday

Friday is the last day to register to vote for the upcoming primary election on March 15.

If you are registering for the first time or updating your information, you can find that form here. The form must be filled out and postmarked or received by your local board of elections or the State Board of Elections by this Friday, February 19.

Voters will choose their party representative for the general election races in November. North Carolina has a semi-open primary process, which means unaffiliated voters can vote in any one party’s primary but registered party members must vote in their respective party’s primary. Voter will choose their party’s representative for President, Governor and Senate.

Voters will also vote “for” or “against” the Connect NC Public Improvement Bond. Most of the $2 billion bond will goes towards the UNC system, improving the water and sewage system and funding for state parks.

This year will also be the first year North Carolina will require a photo ID to vote. Acceptable forms of ID are a NC Driver License, a US passport, a military ID, a veteran ID, and certain tribal identification cards. If you do not have one of these IDs then you can still vote if you sign a form saying you have a reasonable impediment, such as a lack of paperwork or proper transportation.

If you want to mail-in your vote, you can request an absentee ballot online or receive one during early voting. Absentee ballots must be received by March 8. No photo ID is required to cast an absentee ballot.

Same-day registration will be available during the early voting period from March 3-12. To vote on the day of the actual primary, March 15, you must register by Friday.

According to the State Board of Elections, only 35% of registered voters in North Carolina voted in the last presidential primary in 2012.