olitics is a contact sport. If in doubt, ask any county commissioner. Folks would give that board a little break if pay and perks were something new. After all, the commissioners have a difficult job running a large county on a limited budget. It’s thankless work.
But the persistent fiduciary issue involves a documented 10-year-old equity-of-trust problem. A published The Robesonian article during the 2002-2003 budget crisis lamented Robeson was the poorest county yet had the state’s 12th- highest paid commissioners. Although commissioners interviewed in 2002 agreed it wasn’t appropriate, re-elections and budget votes pushed pay to the fourth-highest over the next 10 years. Naturally, the public is concerned. To their credit, the board seems to now be responding. But broader election issues now overshadow the controversy. State and national elections are in full swing.
Politics today is data driven and the latest numbers are revealing. Polls strongly suggest Pat McCrory will be North Carolina’s next governor. His challenger Walter Dalton simply is not going to be able to overcome McCrory’s double-digit lead even if every undecided swings Dalton’s way. It’s not expected to happen. The state probably will have the first Republican governor since James Martin, who served from 1985 to 1993.
Romney is moving numbers. Though a less certain race, persuadable voters still exist. The problem is the most persuadable pay the least attention to politics. The presidential race is tight according to national popular polling, but the presidential race isn’t really a national election. It’s 50 state elections decided by the Electoral College.
Which is why the only Electoral College model in the nation developed by two professors at the University of Colorado is interesting. Accurate in predicting every presidential election since 1980, the model has consistently predicted the race for Romney with 320 electoral votes. It takes 270 to win. That’s a landslide. Nevertheless, popular polls indicate a much closer race. In reality, it’s still a toss up.
Internal polling by campaigns is the best source of information. But they are generally secret. Knowing what they reveal is fairly easy though. Simply follow the money and watch campaign reactions.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for example, pulled three weeks worth of ads away from District 8 incumbent Congressman Larry Kissell. That’s $180,000 worth of media. It’s clear they are not confident Kissell will overcome Republican Richard Hudson’s lead. It’s a sign they are waving the white flag unless Kissell moves poll numbers independently. The race currently favors Hudson.
Congressman Mike McIntyre represents the 7th District, which only has a few precincts in the northern portion of Robeson. His opponent is Republican David Rouzer. Out of 13 congressmen in North Carolina, McIntyre is the only one with a fighting chance and is doing better in a Republican-leaning district than Kissell. Even with a McIntyre win, North Carolina most likely ends up with nine Republicans and four Democrats as congressmen. Most reports suggest a slight advantage for McIntyre at this point.
Internal polls exist for close races between local legislator G.L. Pridgen and challenger Ken Waddell in addition to the District 7 commissioner seat race between incumbent Tom Taylor and challenger Dennis Harrell. None are public.
Incumbents generally have a partisan advantage. But these races have unique variables making data analysis difficult. Ultimately, the House seat will be decided in Columbus County and the commissioner seat hasn’t experienced a contested race between competitive opponents in a general election for a comparison. Competitive races are good for democracy. So the fairest analysis is they are competitive races between excellent candidates.
Lastly, the N.C. Senate race strongly favors Democrat Michael Walters. Nearly all candidates have visited Robeson and addressed local issues.
Interestingly, the only competitive Democrats are conservative. While a good thing, Blue Dog Democrats are increasingly rare. Which is why this year, most of North Carolina will turn red and Robeson may finally become a powerful swing vote in the state.
Phillip Stephens in the chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party.