Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Follow-up: Electoral Politics of Widening I-77

As a follow-up to the last post, a commenter on the piece over at took issue with pointing out that there are 170k Republicans in Mecklenburg county and that they certainly all would not be voting in the 2014 US Senate primary.  He also took issue with comparing Greg Brannon to Ted Cruz and what happened in the Texas primary in 2012.

Here is the response.

Certainly, not all of the 170k Meck Republicans will turn out in 2014.   However, percentages are relative. For example, using the Republican 2012 presidential primary as a comparison Meck Republicans cast 7.75% of all the registered Republican votes cast in the that primary. If one includes all voters regardless of party registration who chose to vote in the Republican primary, Meck represented 8.05% of all the votes cast in the statewide Republican primary. It's reasonable to presume the overall percentage of Meck voters in the 2014 primary will be somewhat close to those numbers.  These numbers came from the Civitas Vote Tracker website.

The point is that regardless of the total number of voters that turn out, Mecklenburg's percentage will likely be a big chunk of that and Speaker Tillis's position on toll roads will not sit well with a significant portion of that chunk. If one also considers that primaries have a larger percentage of partisan and activist turnout, that could also be bad for Speaker Tillis. From what I've seen, many of those types are the most upset with the toll road plan.

As for comparing Dr Brannon to Ted Cruz that's hard to say. I haven't followed either of them too closely. That comparison was more to the point that anything can happen if a race goes to a runoff.  However, since the question was asked. That got me thinking.

I looked for polling numbers from this point in the 2012 Texas primary race and what I found was interesting. This poll from Public Policy Polling on the 2012 Texas primary done in early 2011 had David Dewhurst at 23% with Ted Cruz at only 3%. Ron Paul had 21% at that time. While it might be correct in saying Brannon is not Ted Cruz, it would also be accurate to say Thom Tillis is not David Dewhurst. In this recent poll (also done by PPP) on the upcoming NC Senate contest (done roughly at the same early point in the election cycle) Greg Brannon is at 7% and Thom Tillis is at 6%. Yes, Texas is more conservative than North Carolina, but that's more of an issue for the general election. In the primary, the dynamics certainly could be similar.


  1. From Guy R Smith via Facebook:

    Rick, the only problem with all this election conjecture is just that your whole scenario is wrong. To have at least a potentially closer opportunity at a possible prediction of this coming election, I would suggest that the voting patterns from the 2010 election has a much better potential to predict than the 2012 elections. Congressional elections in years from non-Presidential election years have historically turned out a different pattern of voters, with lower tunrout and some different demographics. Without the figurehead race and statewide races being on the ballot, the voter turnout is very different. Just something you might want to look at in your research.

  2. Guy, I did think about that, and I would definitely agree with you in most other circumstances. One difference I'd see this time is that this race will be one of the top Senate races this cycle with national implications because control of the Senate will be at stake. There could end up being a flood of outside money, attention, and organizational power brought into the primary contest - making it more like a presidential year. Regardless, the percentages that turn out from each county cycle to cycle don't change that much - only the total numbers change significantly. The 2004 Republican US Senate primary with no Republican incumbent that Richard Burr won had 6.6% of the total from Mecklenburg. The 2010 race where he was an incumbent running against all long-shot challengers Meck had 5.5% of the total. Unless this race somehow turns into a rout, it could be closer to a presidential year just because of the national implications. Also, if you are right and 2014 more closely resembles 2010 that's probably bad for Thom Tillis as well. If Meck's % comes in low that means overall fewer of his home area voters turned out which can't be good.