Wednesday, July 7, 2010

NC-Sen Bad Polling at it's best, Ras

Thank you, Rasmussen pollsters for giving North Carolina and Senate candidate Elaine Marshall one of the most pessimistic and worst conducted polls in the 2010 election cycle.

Rasmussen Reports conducted a poll on the 2010 NC Senate race shortly after Public Policy Polling released a highly anticipated poll showing a 38 to 33 percent spread between Elaine Marshall and incumbent Senator Richard Burr. The PPP poll showed Libertarian candidate Mike Beitler picking up 10%. Any semi-intelligent and semi-coherent North Carolina political analyst knows that Libertarians make up a large and fairly vocal part of NC politics especially in the East region of the state.

Rasmussen DID NOT INCLUDE the Libertarian candidate in their poll, they also did not provide any information on the methodology of this specific poll, and did not provide the wording of any of the questions.

The poll gave Elaine Marshall 37% and Richard Burr 52%, 52! It is ridiculous that Rasmussen expects that this poll could be considered legitimate. Their last poll in North Carolina showed Burr-Marshall to be a ONE POINT race at 44-43. They explain away the 8 point drop for Burr and 6 point gain for Marshall in last months poll as a fluke or "a big bounce" following her runoff victory.

It is pretty clear that by excluding Mike Beitler from the poll, Rasmussen helps cover up cracks in Republican Party unity in North Carolina, and tries to show a fracture in Democratic Party unity. Republican votes will be siphoned off in votes for Mike Beitler, and Democrats will vote for Elaine Marshall in November, the question is in what numbers, and GOTV will be our job.

Rasmussen seems to be blatantly attempting to portray Elaine Marshall as a weaker candidate in their poll, following a strong showing for Secretary Marshall in the previous PPP and Ras polls. The NC Senate race will be one of the most highly contested races, and will be a Republican incumbent seat turned yellow-dog blue. Rasmussen does not want DNC, DSCC, and progressive money flowing into North Carolina, and they do not want the media putting North Carolina on their toss-up list, or leaning blue column. It is too late, soon that national media and bloggers will pick up on what is happening in North Carolina: a real grassroots campaign that has not been highly visible to them, because it is a REAL grassroots campaign. Elaine Marshall, remember the name.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

PPP Shows a Seat Ripe for the Picking

The newest PPP poll shows Secretary of State Elaine Marshall at 33%, while Senator Richard Burr taking 38% of the poll respondents. Burr is polling worse than Libby Dole was when she lost her seat to Kay Hagan. Elaine Marshall can win this seat, but she still needs support and help.

A troubling but important part of the poll showed a proportionately large number of liberal and Democratic voters undecided about Secretary Marshall. These voters are expected to come over to support her, but the question is less who they will vote for, and more whether or not they will end up voting on November 2nd.

Moderate voters seem to favor Secretary Marshall with a huge margin of 46% to 22% over Burr. Despite the fact that the poll had larger numbers of respondents who considered themselves ideologically conservative and moderate, Secretary Marshall was still viewed favorably more often than unfavorably.

I would venture to guess that the unfavorable ratings from those who identified themselves as liberals or Democrats are residual effects from a financially and politically damaging runoff.

There has not been a large following of the North Carolina runoff on DKos and many of the other blogs, not to mention the national news cycle. I have been surprised at the minimal attention afforded to North Carolina, especially when articles following the primary runoff afforded Elaine and NC about a sentence of focus, then veered off in the direction of South Carolina.

The runoff cost the Marshall campaign more than $200,000, and nearly emptied the campaign coffers. In my opinion, this is approximately $200,000 the DSCC owes her campaign (to start with) for going along with a runoff that lasted 6 weeks and cost the state of North Carolina Board of Elections as much as $4 million.

A central theme of the Marshall campaign since the first primary has been Unity, in the Democratic Party and otherwise. This theme was paraded into the local media when former candidate Ken Lewis endorsed Elaine. Ken was a great progressive candidate that received almost no attention, but picked up 17% of the primary vote. The Democratic Party has been fractured a lot lately, and I think Elaine could be a great candidate for North Carolina, and a great Senator to bring a voice to the party that is not tainted by Washington DC politics. That said, she needs support and money from the DSCC and the DNC, and the network that supports them. The local media has been trumpeting the fact that the Marshall campaign has raised $150,000 or so since the runoff. To be honest, that is chump-change and will do little to compete with the $5+ million that Burr has in the bank.

I have been disappointed by the netroots for not rallying for Elaine. There have been a few nice posts, and she now has an account to post on the site, but it is nothing compared to the effort and sacrifice put forth on Bill Halter's campaign. I know there was some bitterness about that race, but Elaine provided a candidate with positions as progressive or more so than Bill Halter, and a race where she could remove a real Republican incumbent from a Senate seat. The only real answer I can provide is that someone better think about a coordinated effort to raise for her, and an effort to get out the word on her campaign because, apparently, Democrats and otherwise around the country did not think she had a chance and did not give her much support in the runoff because the DSCC backed Cunningham, the other candidate. They were wrong, and I hope that fact makes you angry, at least annoys you a little bit, ideally enough to donate to her campaign, and call your friends in NC to vote for her. The NC and national media has dropped the ball on this race, as has the DSCC. Make it right.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Marshalling Support for a Progressive in North Carolina

Over the past weeks, there has been little attention paid to the runoff election in North Carolina that will determine the candidate to take on Sen. Richard Burr in November. This race was confusing at first, featuring a DSCC backed candidate, Cunningham, the popular Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall, and a progressive lawyer, who worked on the Obama campaign, Ken Lewis. The primary went off with an annoying hitch; no candidate reached the required 40% threshold to prevent a runoff election. Though the runoff was not mandatory, Cunningham who came in second, a full 9 points behind Elaine Marshall demanded a runoff election to determine the candidate. This runoff has been met with derision and frustration by many Democrats in North Carolina because it is placing an enormous amount of pressure on the Board of Elections, which is already miserably low on funding. Ken Lewis, the choice of many strong liberal and progressive Democrats, like myself, lost the election in third place with 17% of the vote. He did not wait long before endorsing Elaine, the next progressive choice, and the farthest removed from the Washington establishment that kept Blanche Lincoln around and enabled her to continue to fight for the people of…the oil and gas industry.

There seems to be a pervading sense of disappointment, despair, and frustration after the Arkansas primary runoff. The race in North Carolina may be a second chance for putting a truly progressive and genuine candidate on the ballot. Howie Klein whose blog was posted on crooksandliars described the race impeccably as a race between Elaine, a “progressive champion” and Cal, an “ambitious empty suit” with the backing and influence of Bob Menendez.

The race has certainly not turned rosy in this runoff, and the mudslinging has come from one side of this competition. The DSCC backed candidate has turned on smear tactics that are working to suppress voter turnout in the runoff because Elaine has greater voter recognition, and stronger backing among consistent voters at the grassroots of North Carolina politics.

His tactics have included misrepresentations and downright lies about Elaine’s policy positions, including assertions that she supported raising the social security benefits age, that she was somehow against new environmental protections, and that she supported offshore drilling. All of these claims are groundless. He has not only spread these misrepresentations through campaign lit and public speeches, but has fed the local media news stories about these issues, as many of these reporters shamelessly report on any scandalous or potentially controversial tip.

By far the worst of this Cunningham/media relationship has been assertions about Marshall taking campaign contributions from lobbyists. Cal’s campaign asserted, baselessly, that Elaine had received funds from lobbyists, which was illegal because her office as the Secretary of State regulates those lobbyists. As a lawyer Cunningham should have realized that there were no legal questions involved with her campaign funds before releasing the story, but as usual his campaign sought a divisive story that would turn voters off to Marshall. They chose the wrong story.

It turns out Elaine Marshall had received $2,500 from lobbyists, which made up less than .5% of her campaign funds. The funds were received from around 3 lobbyists who had been personal friends of Elaine for over 20 years, and represented menacing special interests, like protecting women from domestic violence. This issue is still near and dear to Elaine’s heart, as she was an attorney who defended women in abuse cases before becoming a State Senator.

Cunningham and the media decided to ignore these facts, and in the WRAL televised debate brought this up as an issue. Elaine gave him exactly what he deserved, responding that she would give back the $2,500 if he would give up the more than $150,000 he received from lobbyists, special interests, and Washington insiders. Cal went on to point out that he has never had to regulate these lobbyists and interests, seeing as he has never held statewide office. The disappointment with Cunningham’s choices and tactics is clear now, after he has fabricated potentially damaging issues that will, inevitably, hurt Democrats in the general.

The race is entering it’s last 12 days, and voter turnout is expected to be low, but as a candidate who is the second highest vote-getter in state history and a symbol of genuine caring for the working class families of North Carolina, Elaine Marshall can and should win this runoff and go on to take back the NC Senate seat from a Republican who rode in on Bush’s coattails.

The netroots mobilized beyond the wildest dreams of many to support the Halter campaign, not only by raising obscene amounts of money, but by making the race a show of the power of Democrats working for progress in Congress. Instead of succumbing to the strong arms of the DSCC, now could be a chance to take back a different seat, for a different candidate. One that is equally, if not more committed to fighting for regular people and progressive values, but possesses none of the typical political ambition.

The mourning time has ended, and the time has come to marshal support for another candidate, who not only needs money, but also could use attention and vocal support from the netroots.

If there is any Senate candidate who you are going to fight for, tooth and nail, please, make it Elaine.