Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling recently conducted their monthly survey of North Carolina voters (July 12-14; 600 registered North Carolina voters) and found that Sen. Kay Hagan (D), widely regarded as being among the most vulnerable senators facing re-election, is gaining strength. But, the poll may contain certain slight methodological flaws.
According to the data, Sen. Hagan leads all potential Republican candidates between 10 and 15 points and, as we see on almost all PPP polls, the incumbent and her potential opponents have received consistently poor job approval and/or personal favorability ratings.
Though the voting patterns are weighted to correctly reflect how the state voted in the 2012 presidential and gubernatorial races, flaws seem to be present in gender, geographic distribution, and perhaps ideology.
According to the latest census numbers, females in North Carolina comprise 51.3% of the general population. The survey sample tops 53%. The Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point area appears to be over-sampled, while the Charlotte metropolitan area seems to have a smaller number of respondents than accurately reflects its size. Additionally, a southern state topping 30 percent in those claiming to be very and somewhat liberal as compared to only a 43 percent factor self-identifying as very and somewhat conservative tilts abnormally to the left.
All of the slight skews help Sen. Hagan. The over-sampling of female voters, trending more liberal than their male counterparts, would certainly help the liberal incumbent. Since the senator hails from Greensboro, the over-sample from that region at the expense of the Charlotte area should also help her. And, of course, a slight liberal skew would also aid her.
The conclusion that Sen. Hagan leads her largely unknown potential Republican challengers is not surprising, and undoubtedly accurate. But, because of the slight methodological tilts in her favor, the lead might be in the mid-to-high single digits as opposed to the low to mid-double digits.
With former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray’s (D) Senate confirmation as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Board now accomplished, he will not become a candidate for governor. This means the 2014 gubernatorial campaign will very likely feature incumbent Gov. John Kasich (R) facing Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D). So far, the governor enjoys a double-digit lead over the Cleveland-area administrator. He now enjoys a strong job approval rating, recovering from a controversial start that originally stalled his favorability index.
State Auditor Monica Lindeen (D), widely considered to be a top potential Senate candidate after former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) decided not to run, has decided to remain in her current position. Her stated reason is she simply doesn’t want to leave Montana to spend such a large amount of time in Washington. The Lindeen decision at least marginally helps Republicans, most likely in the person of at-large Rep. Steve Daines.
Yet another potentially strong Democratic statewide candidate has chosen not to enter that state’s open US Senate race. WV Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis (D) says she will not run statewide next year. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) continues to draw weak opposition. She appears in strong position to convert retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D) seat to the GOP column.