Archive for April, 2012

Both political parties gunning for youth vote in 2012

RALEIGH – At N.C. State University, students are paying attention to the issues this election season.

But political observers said that doesn’t necessarily mean they will head to the ballot boxes next month.

“If they determine policy, then they would defeat Amendment One,” said N.C. State researcher Michael Cobb. “But this is the least likely demographic to actually vote.”

Cobb just released the spring "Pack Poll" which surveyed nearly 900 Wolfpack students. Almost eight out of 10 of them are registered voters.

In the survey, the majority of this group labeled themselves as Republicans, but they leaned toward the liberal side on social issues, that is, if they knew what the issues were.

“It is nice to have people out in the Brickyard that are doing voter registration and getting people involved,” said Anna-Marie Massoglia, N.C. State senior. “But people are still pretty hesitant to vote on issues that they really aren’t sure about.”

State Republicans said they believe this is a demographic they can win over for 2012.

“They are going to say have we heard President Obama’s rhetoric before. They have. It hasn’t delivered the results that President Obama said it would,” said Rob Lockwood, N.C. Republican Party spokesman, “and they are going to take that into serious consideration.”

But Democrats disagree.

“People realize that our President, Barack Obama, has kept his promise to young americans,” said Sam Spencer of the Young Democrats of North Carolina.

In 2008 nationally, Obama won two-thirds of the vote from 18 to 24 year olds. When you look at a state like North Carolina, where he won by a narrow 14,000 vote margin, the youth vote really mattered.

But as of Nov. 2011, North Carolina lost about 48,000 youth voters from the rolls, 80 percent of them were Democrats.

Political observers said the challenge now through election day is to try to get some excitement in these young voters.

“I would be surprised in the may elections if 30 to 40 percent of the students voted, that would be a really good turnout for that demographic,” said Cobb.

#NCPOL Headlines for April 12: UNC system budget woes and Perdue speaks against marriage amendment

UNC Board of Governors struggle with budget woes

Administrators with the UNC system are still struggling with budget issues.

They’re looking for more ways to cut costs across the 17 campus-system.

The Board of Governors discussed the prospect of consolidating various academic programs Thursday.

It might be possible for multiple colleges to jointly offer degree programs if there’s not enough student interest on a single campus.

Officials said finances are still a challenge even with a recent vote to raise tuition.

"We have over 60 programs we think will get to reduced to resources and we have over 30 programs that we will invest more resources in,” said Chancellor Steve Ballard of East Carolina University. “We’ve done a campus-wide evaluation of how make sure our resources and programs are aligned,"

In February, the Board of Governors approved a tuition hike that averaged 9 percent for in-state undergraduates next year.

Last year, lawmakers cut more than $400 million from the UNC system budget.

Perdue speaks out against marriage amendment in video

Gov. Bev Perdue released this video on YouTube Thursday asking North Carolinians to vote against the marriage amendment in May.

The governor’s office said Perdue would be speaking on this issue in the coming days and weeks.

The amendment would ban same sex marriage in the state constitution. It’s already banned in state law.

In the minute and 15-second-long video, Perdue said the amendment would take away legal protections from all unmarried couples in North Carolina.

Around the state

– The Huffington Post has a story cutting through the hype the Democrats are putting out about Charlotte ahead of the Democratic National Convention in September. Read the story here.

Capital Tonight April 11: Former Gov. Jim Hunt

On Capital Tonight: Former Gov. Jim Hunt talks about education, and Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce kick off our Quick Takes segment.

Gov. candidates struggling to raise funds in quiet primary race

RALEIGH — The last time North Carolinians were having to pick a candidate during the gubernatorial primary season, on the democratic ticket political heavy weights Bev Perdue and Richard Moore were on the ticket.

By this point in the primary season, they had spent well over $10 million campaigning for their party’s nomination. This time, the airwaves have been practically silent.

“When Perdue announced she was not running, she left democratic candidates really 100 days to plan a campaign,” said political analyst David McLennan from William Peace University. “And at least one of those candidates, Etheridge, had no plans until he announced.”

One-hundred days to decide if they wanted to run, get organized, and raise the money needed to get out their message.

“You look at the 2000 campaign,” said Democratic consultant Andrew Whalen, “Richard Moore and then-Lt. Gov. Perdue, really had been running for governor for three years. Much different than the 100 days that Lt. Gov. Dalton or Mr. Etheridge had been running.”

The rush to get candidates at the gubernatorial level had a ripple effect down the ticket, with lieutenant governor candidates also needing to come forward for the Democrats.

For at least one consultant who works with one of those down-ticket candidates, they said this has not been an easy primary cycle.

“It is all driven because there is a truly a lack of money on the Democratic side right now,” Brad Crone said on Tuesday night’s edition of Capital Tonight. “There is a real gasp for air. Especially from your down ticket candidates.”

With money not flowing as quickly, there have also been an increased interest in online campaigning by candidates.

“Even though they may cost $10,000 dollars to produce the ad, you don’t have to buy time so the costs are relatively low,” said McLennan.

“So many people are getting their information from so many other sources than the traditional broadcast media outlets,” said Whalen. “It’s a way to reach folks directly at a lower cost.”

But even with a bare-bones budget for many in the primary, the consensus is come November, the money will be flowing and the noise level will be turned up.

North Carolina voters head to the polls on May 8 for the primary.

Political headlines round-up for Wednesday, April 11

RDU adding direct flight to San Francisco

Raleigh-Durham International Airport is adding flights to the West Coast.

United Airlines will soon offer non-stop flights to San Francisco – beginning in august.

Gov. Bev Perdue made the announcement, saying the addition gives North Carolinians the chance to impress more out-of-towners and the additional flight will also help bring in more business.

“This is a great opportunity to show off North Carolina at its finest,” said Perdue, “as a new company comes in here and sees that this is no longer your great-grandmother’s North Carolina, that we are sophisticated and have sophisticated transportation articles.”

Non-profit pushing for alternative nomination process

A non-profit organization is providing an alternative way to nominate the president.

Americans Elect is petitioning to state Board of Elections in an attempt to get a third party on the ballot, where the voter can elect another candidate other than the Democratic or Republican nominee. The group is attempting to get all 50 states to have ballot access

Officials said with North Carolina being a swing state it’s important to get all voters involved.

"So it’s all about opening up the ballot access process to the American people breaking barriers to entry for what is currently a dualopoly in our American political system,” said Luck Sheffield, Americans Elect volunteer, “and really breaking that political gridlock."

The online primary is in June for all registered delegates giving the non-profit group the ability to have a candidate on the presidential ballot.

PPP: Obama leads Romney in North Carolina

A new Public Policy Poll released Wednesday shows President Barack Obama with a lead over republican Mitt Romney in North Carolina.

Obama led the way with 49 percent, Mitt Romney at 44 percent and 8 percent were undecided.

This comes on the heels of Rick Santorum dropping out of the Republican presidential race yesterday.

PPP questions likely voters and this poll had a +/- 3.1 percent margin of error.

Poll: N.C. residents want more electric service options

A new poll by the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association shows homeowners want more options on the energy front.

More than 85 percent of people want options beyond Progress and Duke Energy to get their electricity. Nearly 87 percent want laws changed to allow more companies to sell electricity in the state.

The poll of North Carolina residents-not just voters has a plus minus margin of error of 3.69 percent.

The Sustainable Energy Association is a non-profit focusing on creating clean energy jobs in the state.

Capital Tonight April 10: Santorum drops out

On Capital Tonight, we take a look at how Rick Santorum’s decision to suspend his campaign will impact the primary election in North Carolina. Acting DHHS Secretary Al Delia explains the Medicaid shortfall and The Insiders, Bob Orr and Brad Crone, talk about some of the biggest issues in North Carolina politics.

Santorum’s exit shouldn’t affect turnout for NC primaries

RALEIGH — Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum announced Tuesday that he is suspending his campaign. The move comes about a month before North Carolina voters head to the polls for the primaries, and some political observers say his exit may not have a huge effect on the ballot box.

“While this presidential race for us is over for me and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting,” Santorum said.

His exit leaves Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and the heavily-favored Mitt Romney still running for the nomination to face President Obama in November.

Even though he’s dropped out, Santorum’s name will still be on North Carolina’s primary ballot.

“North Carolina voters now have one less active campaign to listen to but there are still several candidates on the ballot besides those three, including Rick Santorum, so there are still choices for people to vote for,” said Rob Lockwood, of the North Carolina Republican Party.

Many pundits believe his exit will lessen the excitement in this race because Santorum was the one candidate who was able to claim multiple victories over from front-runner Romney. His withdrawal begs the question – will it hurt the conservative-lead ballot initiative known as the marriage amendment?

“The marriage amendment is passing by about 20 points right now. I think if there is lower turnout in the Republican primary due to the lack of contested presidential race, that is probably worth three or four points to the people trying to defeat the marriage amendment. It is not a huge game changer,” said Tom Jensen from Public Policy Poling.

Conservatives say even without the draw of a tough presidential primary or hotly-contest governor’s race, voters will still make their voices heard at the polls May 8.

“The marriage amendment is in very good shape simply because voters in the Republican primary, the independents and conservative Democrats who believe in it are going to vote because it is a very important issue to them,” Lockwood said.

With several crowded Congressional primary contests, political observers say there are still enough races to get people to the polls next month.

Santorum suspends GOP presidential campaign

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Bowing to the inevitable, Rick Santorum quit the presidential campaign Tuesday, clearing the way for Mitt Romney to claim the Republican nomination.

Santorum, appearing with his wife and family in his home state of Pennsylvania, told supporters the race for him was over, but the fight to defeat President Barack Obama would go on.

Santorum made no mention of Romney, and stressed that he’d gone farther than anyone expected, competing "against all odds."

The delegate totals told the tale of Santorum’s demise. Romney has more than twice as many delegates as Santorum and is on pace to reach the number needed to clinch the nomination — 1,144 — by early June.

Romney congratulated Santorum on his campaign. In a statement Romney called Santorum an "able and worthy competitor."

Still in the race, but not considered factors: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Gingrich, in New Bern on Tuesday, released a statement, saying, "Rick has waged a remarkable campaign. His success is a testament to his tenacity and the power of conservative principles. 
“I am committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice," Gingrich said, in the statement.

Gingrich also asked Santorum voters to visit his website and review his record.

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WUNC: Some would lose health benefits if marriage amendment passes

A report by WUNC’s Isaac-Davy Aronson looks at how domestic partner benefits that some North Carolina cities would be affected by the marriage amendment.

If it passes, the amendment would nullify all unions, both same- and opposite-sex, and recognize only marriage between a man and a woman. That means that some unmarried people and children would lose health benefits.

Listen to the full report here.

N&O: Walter Dalton defined by place, past

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton may be a player in state Democratic politics, but in his bid for governor, he’s not particularly well-known.

He’s trying to change that as the May 8 primary approaches.

A profile by the Raleigh News & Observer’s John Frank shows why Dalton got into politics in the first place, inspired by his father, who was a state legislator in the 1940s:

Eight years before he entered politics, Dalton noted its significance in a 1988 speech at a Cliffside community reunion. The young attorney with a mop of dark hair described finding a letter addressed to his father, a one-term state senator elected in 1948. A constituent wrote to thank him for his role in getting the road blacktopped. “For we know that without your help those people would still have been there in the mud and dust,” it read.

Read the profile here.