Sunday, April 15, 2007

Richmond County Democrats Take Straw Poll for President, Gov., Lt. Gov.

April 14, 2007

Results show support for Barack Obama, Bev Perdue, Walter Dalton

It appears that Richmond County Democrats – at least the 75+ activists gathered at today’s county convention – have some definite opinions about candidates and issues on their minds.

During an informal, anonymous survey distributed among all the delegates and guests, several noteworthy findings can be made.

“I thought it might be fun, not to mention a tad educational, to conduct a straw poll to see what Presidential candidates presently have the support of Richmond County Democrats,” said outgoing chairman Wayne Goodwin. “We also received some feedback on candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, and key issues on the minds of delegates.”

To the surprise of many, U.S. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois had the support of a plurality. When one examines how many delegates had him as their second choice, Senator Obama had the support of 27% votes cast for President in the straw poll. Presidential newcomer Obama has skyrocketed in support and news coverage – not to mention fundraising – in a matter of months, and was just this week in Charlotte.

Former U.S. Senator John Edwards came in second among first choices for President but was in a dead heat with U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton of New York overall. They had 20% and 21%, respectively. Former Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee, the 2000 Democratic nominee who won the popular vote nationally, came in fourth. Gore is not actively campaigning.

Due to the closeness of the numbers, the top three preferred candidates are virtually tied.

Other candidates receiving support were U.S. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico. U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut received one write-in vote.

Reflecting their support for President, Democrats similarly placed their choices for Vice President as Obama, Clinton and Edwards. They received 26%, 23%, and 15%. Delegates also cast votes for U.S. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, U.S. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, former Governor Mark Warner of Virginia, and U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.

Curiously, no single delegate selected former Governor Jim Hunt and current Governor Mike Easley though they were listed among the potential vice presidential selections.

Given that most delegates who regularly attend political gatherings are also following the nascent days of the Republican race for President as well, Richmond County Democrats revealed their predictions as to who the Republican choice would be. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Senator John McCain received 28% and 21%, respectively. “Don’t Know” came in at 21%, ahead of the predictions made for Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Condoleeza Rice, and Newt Gingrich.

Richmond County Democrats also had opinions about who they preferred for Governor of North Carolina in 2008.

State Representative Bill Faison of Orange County, State Treasurer Richard Moore, and Lt. Governor Bev Perdue each received preferential votes. Among those three candidates, Perdue claimed 48 %. Moore received 31%.

Not surprisingly, the “winner” among preferred candidates for Lt. Governor was “Don’t Know” at 49%. State Senator Walter Dalton of Rutherford County received 38%, far ahead of Pat Smathers, Mayor of Canton; Dan Besse, Winston-Salem city councilman; and Hampton Dellinger, Raleigh attorney. For the record, Senator Dalton appeared later in the morning at the county convention so his support was likely strengthened by his presence and intermingling with delegates.

Richmond County Democrats opined on the top issues currently facing America as well. Among at least 14 potential choices, the top five in order were Economy/Jobs (18%), War in Iraq/Afghanistan (13%), Healthcare (11%), Environment/Landfills/Climate Change (9%), and Education (9%).

When asked about concerns specifically about Richmond County, Democratic delegates indicated Jobs (26%), Public schools (22%), Medicaid (20%), and Litter (11%). Also receiving some votes were a new courthouse, the need for more entertainment and a movie theater, public safety/crime, the disputed landfill, local taxes, and the county’s declining population.

“This is by far not a statistical sampling of Richmond County Democrats, but a snapshot of what is on their minds at this moment in time,” said Wayne Goodwin. “I am confident that candidates will see their numbers increase or solidify as we approach 2008. Frankly, as voters learn more about who is running and their respective platforms, it would not surprise me if there is some serious fluidity in these results.”

Whether for political activists, voters generally or merely “armchair quarterbacks” in the political game, 2008 is proving to be a most interesting year ahead.

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