Hayes: Polls foreshadow Republican gains

Published 7:23 am Saturday, March 27, 2010

Staff Writer

CHOCOWINITY — The current mood of North Carolina voters is “a good predictor of what’s going to happen” in this fall’s elections, a conservative pundit told some local Republicans.
President Barack Obama’s state poll numbers have been sliding, and that’s a measure of the voters’ mood, said Chris Hayes, senior legislative analyst with the John W. Pope Civitas Institute.
“This is the best predictor of what’s going to happen at the ballot box in November,” Hayes told about 38 guests and members of the Down East Republican Club at a Chocowinity restaurant Thursday night.
According to Hayes, Civitas is a nonprofit organization that does statewide polling, produces issue-oriented publications and offers election analysis, among other services.
“I’m nonpartisan,” Hayes commented. “I just present the facts.”
Continuing with his major theme, poll numbers, Hayes soon added, “Poor Gov. Bev (Perdue) inherited a mess and made it a bigger mess, if you like. … I don’t know if she can ever get back (into) positive (territory). There’s just something about her that people don’t like. You just can’t put your finger on it.”
“She’s a whiner,” interjected Hood Richardson, a GOP state Senate candidate and a Beaufort County commissioner.
Highlighting a potential obstacle to Republican success, Hayes said one Civitas poll indicated half the state’s voters didn’t know Democrats were in charge of the N.C. General Assembly.
“We’re dealing with a lot of uninformed people out there,” he said.
He said Civitas is trying to educate voters. He mentioned the fact that unaffiliated rolls are growing faster than any other form of voter registration in the Old North State.
He said Civitas wants voters to know “what’s really going on in the North Carolina General Assembly.”
One reason this year’s legislative elections are so important is that state lawmakers will redraw legislative districts next year, he pointed out.
Redistricting is “the single biggest issue” on the legislative front at the moment, he suggested.
Hitting on what’s motivating voters to go to the polls, Hayes recycled and paraphrased an old political saw: “It’s the economy and the spending, stupid.”
More than half of the state’s voters opposed the health-care-reform bill recently passed by the U.S. House, Hayes related.
Before introducing Hayes, Larry Britt, chairman of the Beaufort County GOP, addressed the club, saying he “got into a little trouble” at the recent county Republican convention for exhorting party activists to do more this year.
“I asked the activists who were there to do more, and they said, ‘We’re doing all we can.’”
Britt said the party needs to work harder this year.
“Please don’t hesitate to volunteer,” he said, prompting laughter from the crowd. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, and this is a time we can’t leave it until later. We’ve got to do it now.”
For more coverage on Thursday’s meeting, see a future edition.