With election looming, Perdue losing ground in polls

Gov. Bev Perdue is losing ground with her Democratic base, according to the latest job approval ratings.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they approve of Perdue’s job performance while 51 percent noted that they disapprove in a Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday. The latest numbers indicate that Perdue’s approval rating has fallen in the past few weeks. In September, 40 percent noted their approval of Perdue, while only 44 percent disapproved.

Marc Farinella, Perdue’s 2012 campaign spokesman, said the latest numbers will not substantially affect Perdue’s work going forward.

“She does not get distracted by poll results,” Farinella said. “Perdue is focused on creating jobs, supporting education and making government more efficient, responsible and accountable.”

Perdue, a Democrat, fell slightly behind Republican front-runner Pat McCrory in 2012 election indicators. When respondents were asked to elect the N.C. governor between Perdue and McCrory, 47 percent chose McCrory and 42 percent chose Perdue. McCrory has a greater stronghold with his Republican base than does Perdue with Democrats. In a race between McCrory and Perdue, respondents indicated that McCrory would earn 82 percent of the Republican vote, compared to Perdue, who would earn 68 percent of the Democratic vote.

“Bev Perdue doesn’t appear to have suffered too much damage from her comments about Congressional elections last week,” President of Public Policy Polling Dean Debnam said in a PPP release Oct. 5. “Her standing against Pat McCrory is virtually identical to last month, and she’s polling closer to him than she has for most of the year.”

Erskine Bowles, former president of the University of North Carolina school system, leads in favorable opinions among Perdue’s opponents. According to Public Policy Polling, 32 percent of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of Bowles—a greater number than the 30 percent who said they have a favorable opinion of McCrory and the 23 percent who hold the same sentiments for Roy Cooper, N.C. attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor.

Pope McCorkle, visiting lecturer at the Sanford School of Public Policy, said job approval ratings lose importance as Election Day approaches.

“I don’t think those numbers mean much,” said McCorkle, an adviser to Perdue during her 2008 campaign. “[What we should] watch is where [Perdue] compares to McCrory and how much she has closed the gap. Approval ratings are more of a moral slippage.”

Pundits believe that much of Perdue’s overall job approval rating problems stem from issues in the economy, McCorkle noted.

The September job performance ratings represented one of the best months of Perdue’s term, according to PPP. Forty percent approved and 44 percent disapproved of her job performance—Perdue’s best net margin since April 2009. Her ratings spiked largely because of her handling of Hurricane Irene, of which voters generally indicated their approval, according to a Sept. 8 PPP release.

McCorkle explained that President Barack Obama’s low approval ratings could negatively influence Perdue. Perdue’s position as an incumbent during an economic downturn may poorly affect her ratings as well, he added.

“We would agree that we are not satisfied with [Perdue’s] handling of her job,” said Theodore Hicks, chairman of the Durham County Republican Party. “She’s not leading—she’s doing political maneuvering and appealing to voters to keep her job.”


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