Can progressives take back control of North Carolina's General Assembly? Three new polls conducted by PPP for Progress NC pinpoint areas where vulnerable incumbents or open seats could open the door for progressive candidates to enter the race, including a poll showing that incumbent Jim Crawford (D-Granville) is vulnerable in the Democratic Primary. If you are thinking of running, or know someone thinking of running, stand by for more polling in other counties soon. More details on these three polls after the jump:
NCGA POLL: Rep. Crawford Vulnerable in Democratic Primary
Tight races in Wake, Buncombe counties
RALEIGH -- Over the next two weeks Progress North Carolina will conduct polls of likely voters in swing legislative districts across North Carolina to help answer this question: Can progressives retake control of the General Assembly?
"The most recent round of legislative redistricting has left many progressives frustrated, but they should not be," said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director of Progress North Carolina. "There are competitive districts all over the state if the right people step up and run for office."
According to the first round of results, 14-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Crawford of Granville County is vulnerable in a Democratic primary race. Crawford is one of the "Gang of Five" House Democrats who joined Republicans to pass the state budget. Many Democrats were upset by Crawford's budget vote that led to dramatic cuts to education to the point where North Carolina now ranks 49th among state in per pupil funding, below even Mississippi, and included other deep cuts to government services and other state agencies. Crawford was also a swing vote in last week's late night NCAE dues check-off saga.
Polling now shows that if the primary election were held today, Crawford would likely lose to Rep. Winkie Wilkins of Person County, with whom Crawford is double-bunked. Wilkins leads Crawford 43%-28% among likely Democratic primary voters.
"There is no doubt that many Democrats are livid with Crawford's recent voting history," said Brenner. "That anger is reflected in the polling, and if the election were held today Crawford would probably lose to Wilkins."
Progress North Carolina also polled swing districts in Wake and Buncombe counties.
In Wake County, four-term Republican Senator Neal Hunt could feel some heat. 48% of likely voters say they would prefer to elect someone else, while 40% would vote to re-elect Hunt. In a potential general election matchup, Hunt leads Democrat and civic leader Jill Gammon, 43%-39%.
"Incumbents falling below 50% is a key sign of weakness," said Brenner.
In Buncombe County, House District 115 is an open seat that could see a potential matchup between Buncombe County Commissioners. Republican Nathan Ramsey leads Democrat Ray Bailey, 43%-38% with 20% undecided. In a generic ballot test, Democrats lead Republicans by a slim margin, 42%-41%.
All three surveys were conducted over the weekend by Public Policy Polling. Complete results for each poll can be downloaded at http://www.progressnc.org/2012/01/ncga-poll-rep-crawford-vulnerable-in-d...