September 16, 2003

60-40 FILES:

Burr leads Bowles, Blue in U.S. Senate race, poll finds (ROB CHRISTENSEN, 9/16/03, Charlotte Observer)

Republican Rep. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem holds an early lead in next year's race to replace Democratic Sen. John Edwards, according to a new statewide poll.

Burr leads two prospective Democratic opponents, Charlotte investment banker Erskine Bowles and Raleigh attorney Dan Blue, the survey found.

Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Mike Easley, who plans to seek a second term next year, continues to show resilience despite a battered economy and 2 1/2 years of budget crisis, according to the survey of 600 likely voters conducted last week by Research 2000 and commissioned by The News & Observer.

Burr showed strength in the first public poll taken since Edwards announced Sept. 7 he would not seek re-election and would instead concentrate on his White House run.

When asked whom they preferred in the 2004 Senate race, likely voters said they preferred Burr over Bowles by a 43 percent to 37 percent margin with 20 percent undecided. They said they liked Burr over Blue by a 45 percent to 33 percent margin, with 22 percent undecided.

You know a seat's in trouble when a not unpopular incumbent determines he probably couldn't hold it and launches a delusional presidential bid instead.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 16, 2003 8:11 AM

It's too early to take poll numbers seriously. If Burr runs a solid race and if Bush wins NC handily then this should be a pickup for the GOP.
On a related note I'm figuring the GOP picks up NC, SC, GA, and FL. The interesting thing is to see how the other races shape up.

Posted by: AWW at September 16, 2003 9:45 AM

It's normally too early to take polls seriously, but as I understand it Burr has never run state-wide, while Bowles ran for Senate and Blue was the head of the state senate and is known statewide. So the name recognition should be working against Burr right now. These poll results look impressive.

Posted by: pj at September 16, 2003 10:32 AM

Bowles will not get as many votes as he did last time - he is a fussy man who has serious money but is not part of the Democratic rage machine. Dan Blue may be a decent chap, but the state legislature is pretty much despised for their budget waffles of the past 3 years. A strong Republican would scare both of them out of the race - this might be an interesting race, but it is unlikely either will win.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 16, 2003 11:11 AM

Actually, Edwards isn't that popular in N.C. I know my friends in N.C. were speculating that he was making the presidential bid b/c he wasn't sure he could be re-elected to the Senate!!

Posted by: Twn at September 16, 2003 11:38 AM

pj is correct. Bowles ran for Senate two years ago, and Dan Blue was well known for his efforts as Speaker of the NC House. (Not Senate).

One of the more interesting things to happen in North Carolina electoral politics occurred in 1999. The Democrats had recaptured the North Carolina House by a fairly slim margin. However, instead of reelecting their old Speaker, Dan Blue, who's black, they selected as Speaker Jim Black, who's white. As a result, members of the NC Legislative Black Caucus made a deal with the Republicans-- elect Dan Blue as Speaker, and Republicans would keep their committee chairmanships. They hashed out a compromise political plan.

The effort failed by just one vote, as some of the black members of the NC House who had promised to vote for Blue voted for Black instead, betraying what they told the conspirators. (Also, several Republicans voted for Black over Blue.)

There was also an incredibly interested Speaker race after this year's election.

Posted by: John Thacker at September 16, 2003 12:41 PM

Which leads to the joke: What's Black and Blue and Red all over?

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2003 2:27 PM