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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Gipper's Ghost calls on Pat McCrory


RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign message that North Carolina's economy is experiencing a comeback may not be resonating with voters, according to an exclusive WRAL News poll.

McCrory, a Republican, is running to keep his seat against Democrat Roy Cooper, the state's attorney general, and Libertarian Lon Cecil.

When asked if the state's economy is stronger than it was four years ago when McCrory took office, only 25 percent said that it was, while 40 percent said the state's economy is weaker. On a separate question, more than two-thirds of voters said their own economic well-being is either the same or worse than it was four years ago.

"His economic message has just been overshadowed by events," said Marc Rotterman, a veteran Republican political consultant.

Rotterman points to the presidential campaign, in which Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have both been frequent visitors to the state as well as strong presences in paid media.

As well, Rotterman said, the controversial House Bill 2 has also consumed a lot of time and attention both in newsprint and on television. House Bill 2 deals with issues of LGBT rights and the use of bathrooms by transgender individuals. The law has prompted many conferences and sporting events, such as the NCAA basketball tournament, to locate in other states and has drawn criticism from the business community.

Those withdrawals, despite not having broad economic impact, have made headlines across the state.

"The accomplishments of both the General Assembly and the governor in tandem have, unfortunately, not gotten through to a large segment of voters," Rotterman argued.

In fact, there are some good economic indicators for the governor to point to. The state's budget has a surplus, and the state's unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent in August, the lowest it has been in a decade.

McCrory has sought to capitalize on that good economic news in campaign commercials that tout "results, not politics" and a "Carolina Comeback." But despite broader economic indicators, those ads may land with a thud on voters who are not seeing that recovery reflected in their lives or the lives of their neighbors.

McCrory's campaign declined to comment, saying they don't respond to "media polls."


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