The right-leaning Civitas Insitute dropped a poll this week showing Pat McCrory (R) leading Walter Dalton (D) by 47% to 37%, with Libertarian Barbara Howe polling at 5 percent.
(According to the NC state board of elections, Libertarians make up just 0.23% of the total registered voters in North Carolina. Their candidate for governor is polling anywhere from 5 to 9 percent — depending on what poll you believe.)
The Republicans are cheering the 10 point margin. But, before we get too excited, let’s do a little math: 47% + 37% + 5% = 89%. That leaves roughly 11 percent of voters — more than the margin between the two major party candidates — as hard undecided. Where will those voters end up in November?
The poll also shows a 4% margin of error — which is pretty high for a poll you want to have some faith in. In other words, McCrory COULD have as much as 51 percent or as little as 43 percent. Dalton could have as much as 41% or as little as 33 percent. So, we truly could be looking at 43% to 41%, which I think some other poll pegged the race at not too long ago.
Let’s take a look at the cross-tabs for the Civitas poll. Check out the polling history. At the end of February, McCrory was polling at 49%. At the end of March, he was polling at 48 percent. At the end of May, he was polling at 48%. At the end of July, Pat was at 47%. McCrory’s share of the vote, according to Civitas, is slowly evaporating as the months go by.
Let’s look at Dalton’s numbers. At the end of February, Dalton was polling at 30 percent. At the end of March, his share of the vote was at 32 percent. At the end of May, Dalton was polling at 38 percent. At the end of July, he was polling at 37 percent. The lieutenant governor is climbing, slowly but surely.
(NC Free Enterprise Foundation’s Jonathan Kappler, on Twitter, had some interesting analysis on this subject. He pointed out that an average of FOUR National Research polls on the race since February had McCrory 48%, Dalton 34%. He noted that an average of FOUR DIFFERENT pollsters SINCE MARCH shows McCrory 46%, Dalton 39%.)
Crunching the numbers tells you that both of these major party candidates have quite a sales job to do between now and November. The presidential campaigns will be spending a lot of time and money in the state — which should have some trickle down effect on the race for governor.
There is a lot of time until the vote in November. Looking at how these numbers have been moving over the past few months, it appears this race could get a lot more interesting between now and then.