Election 2014: Voters Unhappy, Outcome Uncertain

The 2014 midterm election is just a little more than two months away, but with so many close races nationwide, pollsters are finding it hard to predict how it will go.

At stake – among other things – is control of the U.S. Senate. Democrats currently hold a 53-45 edge in the Senate, but Republicans are poised to make significant gains this year, particularly with the impending retirement of some popular Democrats in otherwise right-leaning states. (Also noteworthy is that Senators are elected every six years – so the seats up for grabs this year were last at play in 2008, an unusually strong year for Democrats. A few Democrats won close elections in 2008 on the coattails of then-candidate Barack Obama – but the President’s approval rating today is low, so a close association with Obama could have the opposite effect this time around.)

But even though voters generally don’t approve of the President, they also dislike his opponents. Across the nation, voters are expressing disapproval of Democrats and Republicans alike – and that means it’s entirely unclear who will come out on top in November. (In spite of the uncertainty, Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen says this has been the least enjoyable election he’s ever covered, simply because the mood is so sour across the political spectrum.)

Jensen says he’s finding a similar story in many Senate races: the Democratic candidate is slightly more popular than the Republican, but that Democrat is being weighed down by his or her association with the unpopular president. If the election turns into a referendum on Barack Obama, Jensen says, Republicans will likely make big gains – but if voters cast ballots based on how they feel about the candidates themselves, it will be a Democratic year. (Or at least a more Democratic year.)

How does the Senate race look today? According to the website Real Clear Politics, Republicans will end the year with at least 46 Senate seats; Democrats will end the year with at least 45; and nine seats – Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, and North Carolina – are too close to call. (GOP-leaning South Dakota may join that list soon: a Public Policy Polling survey this week had that race tightening.) Depending on how things shake out in the next two months, Jensen says, 2014 could see virtually no change in the Senate – or it could be a historic sea-change election for Republicans. (Most of those nine toss-up seats are currently held by Democrats.)

Compounding the uncertainty, independent and third-party candidates are also drawing support in many of these too-close-to-call races – including North Carolina, where libertarian Sean Haugh is polling close to 10 percent in many surveys. Jensen says those candidates will likely see their support drop as the election draws nearer – but in a close race, even a few percentage points could turn the tide. (Looking ahead, Jensen says the unpopularity of the two major parties could open the door for an even stronger third-party movement in 2016. Such a movement, he says, would have to be well-funded and probably centrist. But it may also be due: by 2016, it will have been 24 years since a third-party candidate – Ross Perot in 1992 – drew more than 10 percent of the presidential vote.)

PPP director Tom Jensen spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck on the air Friday.

http://chapelboro.com/news/election/election-2014-voters-unhappy-outcome-uncertain/

Poll: Nation On The Wrong Track

North Carolina voters aren’t happy with the direction the nation is headed.

The Civitas Institute is a conservative publication, which conducted a poll in late July. In the release of the poll last week, it stated 70 percent of registered North Carolina voters think the United States are on the wrong track compared to the 20 percent that thinks things are heading in the right direction.

In October 2012, the split was 55-40, with the majority still believing the nation wasn’t in the right place.

The number one issue voters said they were concerned about was the economy. In a close second was jobs and unemployment, followed by immigration, health care, and the current government.

Neither political party had the upper hand in the poll. When voters were asked which candidate they would vote for if the election for Congress was held on that date, 43 percent said the Republican and 43 percent said the Democrat.

And, when asked specifically how President Barack Obama is doing—almost at the midway point in his second term—53 percent disapprove while 45 percent approve.

To see a complete breakdown of the poll, click here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/national/poll-nation-wrong-track/

AARP: Poll Shows Retirement Security Fears

AARP North Carolina reports a new election year poll revealing that voters 50 years and older who participate in November elections worry that a secure retirement could be out of reach for them.

According to the survey, voters 50+ worry the most about paying too much in taxes (60%); costs rising faster than incomes (55%); health expenses (49%); not having enough to pay for care for a spouse who needs daily assistance (44%); and not having financial security in retirement (44%).

50+ voters say they want to see candidates whose platforms include focusing on their financial security, according to the survey.

One component of the survey is the “Anxiety Index,” which indicates this year that older voters, particularly those who are not retired yet, feel anxious about their economic security.

The survey also revealed that 79% of non-retirees, most of whom are boomers, think that it will be hard to save for retirement. 52% of this pool say that they have postponed or are planning to postpone retirement.

The majority of older voters surveyed say they hold Social Security as a top priority, with 81% saying that it will influence their voting decision this year.
76% of older voters oppose candidates who would support cuts in Social Security to reduce the deficit, and 78% think that candidates need to elaborate more on their positions regarding Social Security reform.

77% of Social Security Beneficiaries say that their expenses are rising faster than their Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA).

Another key issue highlighted in the survey is the matter of independent living. The majority of survey participants want to live independently as they age and see this issue as a critical one, with 76% saying that candidates need to do more to explain their position on this issue.

77% of the 50+ voters who participated want to receive care in their homes rather than costly nursing homes when tasks become too difficult due to age or illness.

56% of voters 50+ have been or are caregivers. 25% say they expect to be caregivers in the future.

On the topic of age discrimination, an overwhelming majority of voters (81%) support he Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, which is designed to help older workers by restoring workplace protections under the law.

To view the complete results of the survey, you can find this story on our website, Chapelboro.com.

http://chapelboro.com/news/election/aarp-poll-shows-retirement-security-fears/

Early Voting For Sheriff Concludes

Early voting is closed for Orange County’s next sheriff as 298 residents cast their ballots on Friday, and 282 voted on Saturday taking the total to 1,519 for early voting.

Saturday, Orange County Commissioner Mark Dorosin told WCHL that he organized about 100 citizens to join him in voting early, and led the caravan from Chapel Hill to Hillsborough.

Charles Blackwood and David Caldwell are in the runoff for the position after the two were separated by just more than 60 votes in the May 6 Primary. Since neither received more than 40 percent of the vote, the second-place finisher—Caldwell—was able to call for the runoff.

Only the Board of Elections Headquarters took votes in the early voting process because of the historically low turnout for runoffs. However, all 44 precincts open on Election Day, Tuesday, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Candidate Profiles

Charles Blackwood

David Caldwell

http://chapelboro.com/news/election/early-voting-sheriff-concludes/

No Early Voting Friday

Don’t travel to Hillsborough Friday to place your vote for Orange County Sheriff.

Early voting for the runoff election is closed Friday for the July 4 holiday. The polls open again Monday at 9:00 a.m.; they’ll be opened each day next week until 5:00 p.m. They’ll open next Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Election Day is July 15, and all 44 precincts will open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

http://chapelboro.com/news/election/early-voting-friday/

NC GOP Unpopular – But Are They In Danger?

Pat McCrory is unpopular and the North Carolina General Assembly is extremely unpopular – but it doesn’t look like there will be much of a shakeup in Raleigh when North Carolinians go to vote this November.

That’s the upshot of the latest survey from Public Policy Polling, released last week.

Read the report here.

Governor McCrory’s approval rating is only 39 percent and his disapproval rating is 45 percent – marking the 12th month in a row that McCrory has been in negative territory. PPP director Tom Jensen says that may be because voters see McCrory as a weak governor: only 27 percent believe he’s calling the shots in Raleigh, while 43 percent think the General Assembly is in control. (And voters don’t see that as a good thing: only 18 percent of North Carolinians approve of the job the NCGA is doing.)

But voters disapprove of Democrats in the NCGA as much as they disapprove of Republicans – so even though the NCGA is in Republican hands, there doesn’t appear to be a groundswell of support for Democrats yet. Republicans actually lead a generic legislative ballot 43-41, which Jensen says would give the GOP essentially the same majority for the next two years that it enjoys today. (That’s in spite of the fact that most of the policies being passed in the House and Senate are themselves unpopular as well.)

Tom Jensen joined Aaron Keck on the Tuesday afternoon news to discuss the poll.

As for the 2016 election, Jensen says to expect some close races: McCrory currently holds a 44-42 lead over attorney general Roy Cooper, the presumptive Democratic challenger (owing partly to Cooper’s low name recognition, Jensen says), while Hillary Clinton leads the most likely Republican candidates in the presidential race by equally narrow margins.

http://chapelboro.com/news/election/nc-gop-unpopular-danger/

Let The Voting Begin

The polls are open.

Close to 6,000 people cast their ballots early, showing increased interest in this mid-term election with tight local and national battles.

Click Here For Voting Information (Find Your Precinct)

Tune in to 97.9 FM WCHL Tuesday for exclusive election coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. Ron Stutts will be joined by Aaron Keck and Elizabeth Friend as well as special guests: Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Orange County Democratic Chair Matt Hughes, and Public Policy Polling Director Tom Jensen.

WCHL will bring you the numbers live once the polls close at 7:30 p.m. You can also stay up to date on all the races with our Election Central. And, tweet about the races using #2014OCPrimary and follow @WCHL and @Chapelboro on Twitter for all the latest.

http://chapelboro.com/news/election/let-voting-begin/

Early Voting Final

The final day of early voting was by far the most popular as more than 1100 people cast their ballots.

In all, close to 6,000 people voted early for the Primary Election, which takes place Tuesday. The early voting results will be the first to be posted by the Board of Elections, which go live with the absentee ballots at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when the polls close.

The most popular location for early voting this year was the Board of Elections headquarters in Hillsborough. It saw more than 1800 ballots cast. The Seymour Senior Center came in second with 1,677, and Carrboro Town Hall came in third with 1,512.

The North Carolina Hillel Center, which was the closest voting location to campus, only saw 504 votes cast and Master’s Garden only saw 204 votes in the nine-day early voting period.

The Orange County Sheriff race could see a runoff election if the person with the most votes doesn’t receive more than 40 percent of the votes. However, if he does, he will most likely win the Sheriff’s seat since there are no Republican opponents on the ballot.

The other seats that have only seen Democrats declare are the Orange County Board of Commissioners At-Large and District 2 chairs, Register of Deeds, and four Orange County School Board seats. The Carrboro Board of Aldermen special election is also taking place Tuesday.

Voting Information

http://chapelboro.com/news/election/early-voting-final/

State Democratic Party Chair Pleased with Election Results

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.

***Listen to the Story***

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/

The Polls Are Open

ORANGE COUNTY – Forty-four locations are now open in Orange County accepting your ballots.

Twenty-four candidates are seeking 15 seats including the three mayoral candidates who are running unopposed, and WCHL has a profile of each candidate.

Visit WCHL and Chapelboro.com’s Election Central for a profile and a full interview with each candidate. There you can also find the precinct list for your location to vote.

The polls are open until 7:30 p.m. WCHL’s exclusive Election Day coverage beings at 7:00 p.m. with special guests including host of Who’s Talking, D.G. Martin, Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, director of Public Policy Polling, Tom Jensen, and former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird. We’ll also be talking with people at the polls after they’ve voted during the Evening News with Aaron Keck, and we’ll be speaking with the candidates themselves.

Get Your Voting District Information

http://chapelboro.com/news/election/the-polls-are-open/