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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Obama's 4th North Carolina Trip: 2012 Re-Election Bid

Obama Scheduled To Visit Winston-Salem Area

President Barack Obama will travel to the Winston-Salem area on Monday for an official event related to the economy.

The White House refused to release further details, but WXII-TV in Winston-Salem reported that Obama will visit Forsyth Technical Community College.

It would be Obama's fourth trip to North Carolina since he became president. He last visited in April, a largely off-the-record weekend vacation in Asheville with his wife, Michelle.

A few weeks before that trip, he came to Charlotte to tout the health reform bill.

With two years before the next presidential election, North Carolina remains a politically important state for Obama. He won the state narrowly in 2008.

Republicans have done better since then, taking over the North Carolina State General Assembly in November.

But in Congress, the state lost just one Democrat, U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge of Lillington, who lost in his largely rural district to tea party activist Renee Ellmers.

In North Carolina, Obama remains in a close race with four potential GOP candidates, according to a survey released Monday by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm in Raleigh.

He's statistically tied with Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, according to the survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

The same survey showed a 45 percent job approval rating for Obama in the state, with 51 percent disapproving.

On Monday, Obama will head to the hometown of Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, who won a second term in November. U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, is from neighboring Greensboro.

Pat McCrory Leads Perdue In Rematch

PPP's first poll of the 2012 Governor's race in North Carolina finds Pat McCrory well ahead of Bev Perdue in a hypothetical rematch of their 2008 contest, 49-37. Perdue also trails NC GOP chair Tom Fetzer in a possible contest, although only by a 42-40 margin.

Part of the reason for Perdue's dicey early standing is her continued poor approval ratings. Only 33% of voters in the state approve of the job she's doing while 49% disapprove. But the other part is that Pat McCrory is a pretty well liked politician. Although a lot of folks have already forgotten who he is- 45% of voters in the state have no opinion of him- those who do remember him from 2 years ago generally look upon him fondly. 34% have a favorable view of him to only 20% with a negative one.

Republicans (49/11 spread) and independents (34/18) are pretty overwhelmingly positive toward him and even with Democrats there are almost as many- 24%- with a positive opinion of him as there are- 27% with a negative one.

McCrory leads Perdue 58-27 with Independents.

By comparison PPP's final 2008 poll found him up just 7 points on Perdue with them.

McCrory is also getting 25% of Democrats, compared to 17% we found him with on our final 2008 poll. And McCrory also does a good job of keeping Republicans in line- Perdue gets only 5% of the GOP vote at this point in time, compared to 10% she was receiving at the end of the last election.

There's not a lot of doubt that McCrory would defeat Perdue if the election was held today. But of course it's not. Earlier this month the Governor of Arizona, who had trailed by a good deal in polling throughout much of 2009, and the Governor of Illinois, who trailed by a good deal in polling throughout pretty much all of 2010, were both reelected. Perdue has a lot of work to do with Democrats and independents between now and November of 2012, but it's not impossible for someone in her current position to win reelection.

The most interesting thing about Fetzer's numbers might be that as many press conferences as he held this year, 70% of voters across the state don't know who he is. And when you get outside the Triangle that number rises closer to 80%. Democrats dislike Fetzer more strongly (8/27) than Republicans like him (16/9). Independents have a dim view of Fetzer as well at 9/16. Given McCrory's strength Fetzer's electoral prospects in 2012 might look brighter in a race for Lieutenant Governor than the big office.

Full results here

Pat McCrory Prepares For 2012 Rematch As Bev Perdue Continues To Screw Up

Pat McCrory's calendar seems penciled with listings for someone ready for a rematch with Gov. Beverly Perdue.

McCrory, who stepped down as Charlotte mayor after 16 years last fall, has become a popular speaker statewide on the Republican Party's chicken dinner circuit, headlining many GOP fundraisers. He's been a frequent visitor on local and even national television political roundtables after narrowly losing to Perdue in November 2008.

Now he has started a political action committee to raise money for legislative candidates and highlight issues he promoted in the 2008 race, including transportation, criminal justice and getting rid of what he called "a culture of corruption" in state government.

"North Carolina state government is in a mess," the 53-year-old McCrory said in a video announcing his New Leadership PAC and identifying Democrats, including Perdue, whom he believes are part of the problem. "It's time for new leadership in our state and it must start now in 2010."

What about 2012?

McCrory said in an interview he's going to strongly consider a repeat gubernatorial bid. A longtime observer of his political career is more certain.

"He's going to run for governor," said Ted Arrington, a political science professor at University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Arrington said it's a challenge for McCrory to keep his name in front of the general public now that he's the ex-mayor. He also needs to avoid negative publicity that could harm him politically while satisfying both the business community that backed him for years and the new tea party movement to avoid a bruising GOP primary.

"I think he's still popular, but he's just disappeared from everything," Arrington said. "He's behind the scenes. He's working the party leaders."

McCrory almost became just the third Republican since 1901 to move to the Executive Mansion in Raleigh when he lost to Perdue by 3 percentage points in the closest governor's race in 36 years. A month later, he announced he wouldn't seek an eighth two-year term as mayor in 2009.

Since leaving the mayor's post, McCrory joined a Charlotte law firm as a public policy consultant in addition to working with his brother's business and boosted his outside political involvement. He kicked off the New Leadership PAC this spring with a mass fundraising letter. The PAC's treasurer is Jack Hawke, McCrory's chief political consultant in the 2008 campaign.

A political action committee is a common tool for someone interested in running for federal office such as president. John Edwards had one, as does current Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. But it's unusual for someone seeking a North Carolina state government office.

McCrory said he plans to use social networking, electronic town hall meetings and other technology to communicate with supporters about candidates and issues. He said President Obama's use of technology during the 2008 campaign played a role in helping Perdue win by energizing Democrats to vote.

"I felt the impact first hand in my race, and I want to help other candidates not be behind the 8-ball in that area," McCrory said.

The political committee collected nearly $25,000 by mid-April. Retired accountant Ken Collins of Monroe gave $100 to McCrory's new venture because he said the ex-mayor "seems to be a guy that can get along across political lines. You can't say that about everybody."

State Democratic Party executive director Andrew Whalen said the ex-mayor's New Leadership PAC "seems to be nothing more than an attempt to repackage those same failed ideas from his failed gubernatorial campaign."

McCrory also went on the defensive in February when the campaign committee acknowledged it failed to report two helicopter flights in the waning days of his 2008 bid. Perdue and former Gov. Mike Easley have taken heat for dozens of flight disclosures over the past year. The Democratic Party made one of those flights the centerpiece of a news conference.

The PAC is not the only effort by McCrory to stay on the political radar screen. During his last year as mayor, McCrory was asked to speak to large crowds in person and on the air about his concerns with the federal stimulus package and President Obama's health care overhaul.

McCrory was the only speaker to get a standing ovation from more than 1,000 conservative and tea party supporters meeting last September in Raleigh to hear Obama's address on health care to a joint session of Congress. Helping social and fiscal conservative feel comfortable with McCrory could help him win over the Republican base and avoid a tough primary in 2012.

Arrington said McCrory's strategy to attempt to remain salient after his failed gubernatorial shows he's not the same guy who won a Charlotte city council seat as a relative political unknown in 1989.

"He started out in politics a very naive fellow," Arrington said. "He's learned a lot."

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Sources: McClatchy Newspapers, Public Policy Polling, WCNC, WRAL, Youtube, Google Maps

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