NC-Gov: What If Bev Perdue Didn’t Run for Re-election?

North Carolina’s incumbent Democratic governor, Bev Perdue, swept into office in 2008 by the narrowest of margins, undoubtedly propelled by the unusual level of enthusiasm for Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. Almost ever since then, though, her poll numbers have been poor, and in head-to-heads with likely rematch opponent Pat McCrory (the former mayor of Charlotte), she’s usually trailed by double digits:

All the data points in the above graph are from PPP, but they were confirmed by a recent SurveyUSA poll (PDF) for the Civitas Institute. At least a couple of Democrats last cycle who couldn’t escape numbers like this bailed rather than seek re-election – Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut for one, and Gov. Bill Ritter of Colorado for another. In both cases, they were replaced by more popular candidates (Dick Blumenthal and John Hickenlooper, respectively) who went on to win handily.

Both Ritter and Dodd didn’t announce their retirements until January 2010, so perhaps we’re a bit early in asking this question. But at SSP, we’re always trying to stay ahead of the curve, so I’m putting these questions to all of you: Do you think Perdue could be persuaded not to seek a second term? Do you think she should be? And if she could be prevailed upon not to run again, who could take her place for Team Blue?

138 thoughts on “NC-Gov: What If Bev Perdue Didn’t Run for Re-election?”

  1. Between Brad Miller and David Price, whoever loses that redistricting battle.  (Rooting for Miller to win.)

    1. make a move sometime. 2012 may be too soon, but the guy’s got a bright future. He’s been a very good mayor so far and has really consolidated his popularity in Charlotte.

      That said, I think people are writing Perdue’s grave too soon. She was trailing most of the campaign last time as well. High turnout among Democratic groups and her own strengths in Eastern NC helped her squeak out. I think she can pull in close to McCrory, especially if he takes the election for granted.  

      1. about messaging.  Her PR people are not worth what they’re getting paid as far as I’m concerned.  They botched this Kentucky trip during the storm and she ought to let them go.

        You’re also correct about perception and likability.  It’s unfortunate but at least Easley has not been in the news for months since his plea/”trial.”  

        I still think she can pull this out.  Right now, according to PPP’s latest, she’s only getting 64% of Dems with 13% undecided and 23% GOP.  That will only improve.

        There are tons of things the legislature has done to rile up the Democratic base – if their story can be told.  

    2. Virginia and North Carolina are neighboring states, one has Janet Howell and the other has Janet Cowell?

      Does South Carolina have a Janet Powell or something?

      1. Because Democrats are more geographically concentrated than Republicans, the only way for them to get a majority is to win a bunch of seats that are hard to defend. It’s not often that you luck into a Peterson or Rahall who can easily hold down a tough seat indefinitely. That said, I think the big mouth point is relevant, and in a triage situation I could see putting Shuler behind people who break ranks as much as he does but don’t talk as much (Owens, Barrow, McIntyre, Matheson, etc).  

  2. my initial thought is that another candidate could make this competitive, but McCrory is still the favorite. With the DNC coming to town next summer, I think large scale demonstrations and Tea Party protests will probably outweigh whatever registration advantage the convention brings to down ticket races. North Carolina hasn’t had a Republican governor since James Martin left in 1993, and has only had two overall since Reconstruction. In fact, it was amazing Perdue pulled this out in ’08 given Mike Easley’s low popularity.  

    1. her district will get made way more Republican. It’s just I don’t feel like Price and Miller will be targeted. Heath Schuler will have a tougher time, and Kissell will be dismantled, (though the likely effect is that McIntyre’s district becomes slightly more Democratic by taking in Fayeteville and some other Democratic leaning areas at the base of Kissell’s district).  

  3. The Democrats have a strong bench in North Carolina. I’d like to see three-term AG Roy Cooper step up. Cooper passed on Liddy Dole in 2008 and Richard Burr in 2010. Potential issues for Cooper are the SBI investigation and the Duke lacrosse scandal.

    Regarding Price/Miller, they’re both too liberal for state-wide appeal. Kay Hagan was a political unknown from the General Assembly in 2008, but Price/Miller have long voting records representing the most liberal, non-VRA parts of the state — indeed some of the most liberal, non-VRA parts of the entire South.

    Remember, Dems have held the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh since Jim Hunt’s third term began in 1993 — a very long lease. Hunt and Mike Easley benefited from a weak, disorganized NC GOP and generally moderate, pro-business positions. Perdue is cut from the same cloth as her predecessors, but she has a likability problem.

    Out-going Raleigh Mayor Chuck Meeker is a possibility, but he may also be too liberal for the state. Meeker’s wife, Anne McLauren, serves on the Wake County Board of Education — a body that has attracted tremendous national controversy regarding the school district’s abandonment of a well-regarded diversity policy.

    To DavidNYC’s point, she should not run again. But Perdue should wait to announce in Spring 2012 to keep the General Assembly guessing.

    1. Every poll I saw had her trailing by, at most, high single digits. That, however, was fairly early in the cycle and she gained ground with time.

  4. I do think it might be a good idea for her to consider stepping aside. I really think she rode Obama and Hagan’s coattails to victory in ’08, maybe she could try to replicate that, but I really doubt it. Roy Cooper would probably be the best get. What about Larry Kissell if he gets redistricted into oblivion?  

  5. I think Roy Cooper could totally win if he has decent favorables, I need to head to class though, so I cant really look them up, I’m going to guess that PPP has them SOMEWHERE, they poll the state so often.

    1. Oddly enough, on that list of top 10 most at-risk Dems, Miller was mentioned and Shuler is not.

      Wouldn’t Miller be easier to target?  All they gotta do is cut off his branch to Raleigh.

  6. But if she can’t turn it around by early next year then maybe it would be best to step aside if somebody like Cooper is interested.

  7. Bev has really done a much better job fighting the GOP legislature this session than she did before with a Democratic legislature.  I think alot of her polling low comes from not having the Democratic base shored up.  They will come around.

    Cooper has had his own troubles with the SBI and its Crime Lab but those might be issues only within the Raleigh area.  It’s amazing what news stays in the capital area and what ventures out to the hinterlands.  

    I did not used to be a Bev supporter (in the primary) but I’ve come around.  She’s had dozens and dozens of jobs announcements, great vetoes and really shown a spine.  Her biggest problem is the News and Observer – out to get any Democrat who’s considered part of the old guard.  They even tried to rehash a 1995 (or 97?) story about a single-car accident she was in and whether or not she got some kind of special treatment – all of it a farce because she has been cleared of anything multiple times over.  They bring these little things up constantly only to use whatever their issue-du-jour (‘scuse my french) is to lead into a summary of all the other issues from the past for the remainder of the article.  

    She’s starting to raise money again so I expect her to run.  Lt. Governor Walter Dalton clearly wants to be governor but would be old-ish if he waited for her.  But, they were allies before so I don’t imagine he’d primary her unless he thought this was his last chance and smelled blood in the water.  He’s out raising some decent money, too.

    Treasurer Janet Cowell is definitely a rising star and is untouched by anything scandalous or unethical.  I don’t think any other statewide official or congressperson could or would run and win.

  8. As for replacements, our best hope is undoubtedly AG Roy Cooper.  In 2008 he received the highest number of votes ever for a candidate in NC (though not highest %).  He could have potential problems with the SBI though that have not been made public.

    After Cooper our next best candidates are probably Shuler and shudder Mike McIntyre since they have pretty strong crossover appeal in key areas of the state and they both could be redistricting victims.

    Brad Miller or someone else of that background would be a terrible candidate because they can be tarred and feathered as party line liberals and would have little crossover appeal to indies and conservative Dems in eastern NC.

  9. http://publicpolicypolling.blo

    Attorney General Roy Cooper, Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton, and state senator Dan Blue were all tested.  Cooper “only” trails McCrory 43-35.  From there it’s all very downhill.  

    I guess we should try getting Cooper in since his deficit, while bad, isn’t insurmountable.  

  10. I don’t know anyone, Republican or Democrat, back in North Carolina that likes her. She carries some of the stink that Easley left in the Capitol when he left, and she is generally viewed as ineffective and inept.

    It does seem though that, barring a scandal, McCrory is a huge favorite for this seat, almost a mea culpa from Independents for his loss in 2008. Roy Cooper is definitely the best get, but the question is this: is he wasted in a race like this? The argument for his entry would be that he can raise his profile for a future effort. Brad Miller would be intriguing as well, and I still don’t know while Cal Cunningham failed so badly in last year’s primary. He could be worth another shot.

  11. He’ll probably get screwed over after redistricting. He might be thinking of running statewide anyway instead of staying in Congress. He’s a great campaigner.

  12. As a NC resident who watches things pretty closely here, I have a good feeling that Perdue will rebound by 2012.  I blame much of her unpopularity on the bad economy that she inherited when she started her term, a problem that has affected governors all over the country.  It may have been an even bigger problem for her because she won with such a small percentage in 2008.

    But as we move away from the economic woes of 2009 and 2010, most of the state’s focus is shifting to the battle between Perdue and the conservatives who took over the state legislature.  The conservatives here are pushing the same agenda that they have been all over the country – spending cuts on education and other programs, tax cuts for the rich, etc.  The more people learn about what the conservatives are doing, the more people start to like that Perdue is standing up to them.  It should be pretty simple for Perdue to position herself as the voice of reason and a “check and balance” against the conservatives in the 2012 race.  If McCrory gets elected, the GOP will basically have free reign to enact their whole agenda, and I don’t think that would go over very well.

    However, if Perdue does step aside, there are a ton of good Democratic candidates who could take her place, including:

    – 2008 primary loser and ex-Treasurer Richard Moore, who many thought would be a better general election candidate than Perdue

    – Long-time popular Attorney General Roy Cooper

    – Current treasurer Janet Cowell, a rising star

    – Congressmen Brad Miller, Larry Kissell, or Mike McIntyre if they are redistricting victims

    – Lt. Governor Walter Dalton

    – Promising 2010 Senate primary loser Cal Cunningham

    – Former Senate candidate, UNC President, and Debt Commission chairman Erskine Bowles

    – John Edwards … nah, just kidding.  But if it weren’t for the whole Rielle Hunter thing, he’d probably make a great governor.

    The bottom line is that whoever runs can basically run against the extreme positions that are being taken by the conservative legislature and serve as a safety net against the GOP agenda.  The high turnout due to the Presidential election will help too.  I feel good about the 2012 NC-Gov election.

  13. Who thinks that there isn’t a Dem in NC that can beat McCrory barring a meltdown.  I say let Perdue run, I don’t see a better choice to be honest.  

    I think ticket splitting will be the order of the day in NC, especially with a non-Southern candidate on teh GOP side.

    1. But then again, Kerry only won it 55-44, so even though it’s safe for Democrats, it’s not like it’s wasting votes in its current permutation.

  14. I have a feeling that a lot of Dems in NC are gonna be really disappointed with her in the next few months.  In an effort to appeal to Republicans, I expect her to note veto some important legislation including potentially the voter ID bill.  

    There really isn’t a democrat ready to step up and take the challenge.  If the seat comes up I would expect Bill Faison to run, he will probably be a redistricting victim but would also be a weak candidate and is fresh off a loss for state party chair.  I think Richard Moore burned too many bridges, Roy Cooper is involved in a minor scandal right now, and Walter Dalton is uninspiring at best.    

    There are four young “rising stars” in NC that in my opinion should pass on the race in 2012 because I don’t like their chances – Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, 2010 Senate candidate Cal Cunningham, State Treasurer Janet Cowell, and State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin.  Of those Goodwin is definitely my favorite, he’s a dynamic speaker and I expect him to be governor one day.      

  15. I’m new to SSP, but here’s my stab at what will happen in the NC-Gov race and redistricting:

    1. Perdue will consolidate her base by opposing the Republican legislature and will be dead-even with McCrory next spring. She will not drop out of the race. Toss-up heading into Nov. 2012.

    2. There will be 2 heavy Democratic seats between Winston-Salem and Raleigh, but Price and Miller will definitely be drawn together. Republican state Senators hold a grudge against Miller for drawing himself a favorable NC-13 last time around. Pay back’s a bitch. Price will hold NC-4, Miller will look for other work (rumor is he’s already is looking for other work), NC-13 will be drawn as a majority-minority district.

    3. Shuler’s district will become more Republican, but it won’t be as bad as it could be for him. Republicans will resist the urge to raid Buncombe County with McHenry’s district (to dilute the Democratic precincts) and opt for a middle option: dropping Dem-leaning Rutherford County from NC-11 but adding GOP-leaning counties northeast of Buncombe.

    4. Mel Watt’s district will be drawn from Charlotte to Fayetteville (instead of Charlotte to Greensboro), gutting Kissell’s district and possibly dipping into McIntyre’s district too. Kissell will be a man without a district; McIntyre’s district will be more Republican.

    When the dust settles, the map will look like this:

    NC-1 – Safe Dem (Butterfield)

    NC-2 – Safe Rep (Ellmers)

    NC-3 – Safe Rep (Jones)

    NC-4 – Safe Dem (Price)

    NC-5 – Safe Rep (Foxx)

    NC-6 – Safe Rep (Coble)

    NC-7 – SWING, but more Republican than 2010 (McIntyre)

    NC-8 – Safe Rep (OPEN)

    NC-9 – Safe Rep (Myrick)

    NC-10 – Safe Rep (McHenry)

    NC-11 – SWING, but more Republican than 2010 (Shuler)

    NC-12 – Safe Dem (Watt)

    NC-13 – Safe Dem (OPEN)  

  16. I like Bev Perdue and I want her to stay as my Governor.  I’m also very cognizant that she’s trailing in the polls against McCrory, but I think she’s been holding her own against the Republican legislature.  I might be doing some “wishful thinking”, but I see this race tightening up in the next 12 months.  

    McCrory will not coast to the GOP nomination, either.  While I believe he will win the nomination, I wouldn’t be surprised if 3-5 other candidates come out of the woodworks to challenge him in the primary.  I doubt if the Teabaggers are in love with McCrory.  

  17. Yes the Obama campaign targeted NC but it’s not like Obama’s campaigned for her and dragged her over the finish line. You can even argue Hagan did the best of all three.  

  18. I live in SC and have followed NC politics closely since 1980.  NC is the #1 weather-vane, turn on a dime political state in the union, IMO.

    Whichever party wins the cycle wins NC.  

    I think the D nominee will win or lose regardless of the person.  It’s that kind of state.

    If Obama takes NC in 2012, Perdue will be re-elected and Hagen probably will to.

    As others have stated, I think the recession-racked economy generally is her biggest problem. Assuming the economy recovers by 11/2012, I think she rides that tide up.

    Perdue has brought a Sh*tload of GOOD PAYING jobs to the state, particularly Charlotte. I doubt there is a single Governor that can match her record relatively speaking.


  19. 1. Maybe – It would obviously take a critical mass to get the establishment to throw her under the bus and put their money and mouth behind someone else.

    2. Yes

    3. Some folks from the state lege who haven’t been named:

    – Josh Stein, Sen. Minority Whip who took over Cowell’s seat

    – Rick Glazier, House leader from Fayetteville area, vulnerable to redistricting

    – Grier Martin, Afgan War vet, rising star in the House (great ad he put out last cycle:

    Also, not sure when his gig managing the Race to the Top funds runs out, but Bob Etheridge is another possibility.

    Not endorsing anyone, just putting the names out there for discussion.

  20. Is there a trend of people who win closely fought elections (especially in wave years, but not necessarily) having lower approval ratings during their term? This wouldn’t really surprise me much if it was true, especially if the race was very closely contested. Could just mean they were either polarizing or just not that popular in the first place though.

    Franken in 2014 will be an interesting test case for this.

  21. I think Bev Perdue should run, and I think she can win. I think she should run because she has been a great governor and I really think she has the potential to appeal to independents and semi-Southern conservative Democrats in this state. Here is my take on the changing political landscape of North Carolina (this is all speculation, please tell me if you think I’m completely on the wrong track):

    1.) An older generation of ruralish, working class conservative Democrats have enabled the Democratic party to do well on the local level in the past. Southern Democrats have survived the last half-century here partly because racial polarization is not as strong as further south. Shuler, Kissel, and McIntyre are all in this mold and that is why they have survived and why there are still so many conservative Democrats in this state compared to other states. (Yes, their districts are pretty gerrymandered, but only that type of candidate would be able to wrangle up enough conservative Democrat votes to pull off the win. No other kind of Democrat could win their races.) Bev Perdue is also a part of this mold, but less so. She doesn’t actually have a very clear mold, and I think she’d be more popular if she did.

    2.) A younger generation of Democrats is becoming a strong force in the state, and they are mostly young people and highly educated, middle class adults in the urban areas who have moved here from other states. These are the folks that propelled Obama to his victory in North Carolina and Kay Hagan arguably also appeals most to this crowd.

    3.) The conservative Democrats turned on their party in 2010 on the state legislative level because they became disillusioned with the national direction of the party, embodied by Obama. Now that they’ve fully made the switch, I’m not sure they will go back. McCrory is the perfect candidate for these folks, which is to my mind the most compelling argument for why Perdue would lose–she’s lost her voter base. However, in some ways, she is the best candidate to face him because only she has any chance at all to peel off a few of those voters.

    With all that in mind, Obama can still win this state in 2012 because the growing NC liberal base who voted for him in 2008 will do so again and the conservative Democrats who balked in 2010 probably didn’t vote for him the first time around.

    McCrory is going to be a formidable opponent, and it is more likely that Perdue could lose this state than Obama largely because of him. However, if Perdue gets her act together, Obama’s strong push in 2012 for this state plus at least a marginal appeal to those former conservative Democrats might be able to sneak out a victory for her.

  22. One of them is toast thanks to redistricting (they’ll probably be drawn together, and there’s a chance the GOP will screw them both by drawing the district into Charlotte, Fayetteville, and/or Greensboro).

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