Time to put your money where your mouth is:

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...



The man is not as vulnerable as you might think. He's tremendously popular in Granville County...whose population is steadily growing from Wake County's urban sprawl while Winkie Wilkins' Person County is relatively stable. And Republican voters were pulling the lever for him back when Democrats had the majority in the statehouse. Then, if Wilkins prevails in the primary, Crawford is liable to go independent or jump the aisle. Granville County's burgeoning Unaffiliated voter population helped re-elect him in 2010 when other Democratic candidates lost Granville County (Brad Miller and Doug Berger). Coming from the weaker side of HD-02 (Person County), I doubt Wilkins has the votes to defeat an independent Crawford (not the same thing as beating Crawford in a Democratic primary which is tough but do-able) because Crawford (nor Wilkins) may have a Republican opponent (none have stepped up and declared), in which case Republicans, Unaffiliateds, and a lot of Granville Democrats will carry him back to Raleigh. As evidence, I'd point out that GOP voters didn't leap to embrace Crawford's Libertarian opponent in 2010, and Crawford'smargin of victory was so large that it couldn't have been done without him receiving Republican votes.

I think the difference this time...

... is that Crawford voted with the Republicans on the budget and other social issues and it was his cooperation that allowed them to veer drastically from the middle course that North Carolinians like. This may well cause Democrats -- many of whom have had no choice but to vote for Crawford, since he was at least better than the GOP alternative -- to think twice about voting for him. The consequences of his budget vote and other votes are starting to hit home and it's only going to get worse. Plus, many people in the democratic party are extremely angry at him -- the comments we got when we ran our Jones Street Heisman Trophy contest were extremely negative and many of them did come from his district. I think the results of the polling reflect the impact of these factors. He's a very nice man for sure, and I understand why people like him. But I think we're on the cusp of a cultural war here in NC and he's on the losing side of it.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Progressives take back the General Assembly????

When have progressives ever had control of the GA? I'd take just having dems in control as a first step to a more progressive GA at some point in the future.

I'd also be happy with dems contesting every seat in the GA; I hate seeing R's win unopposed.

good point, but....

"Can anyone other than a braindead-uberconservative-or-republican-in-disguise-willing-to-pander-to-and terrify-the-masses take back the General Assembly?" takes up too much room.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Only thing, under NC law, if

Only thing, under NC law, if Crawford loses in a Democratic primary, he can't run for that office in the General Election as an Independent or as a Republican.

Interesting. Didn't know

Interesting. Didn't know that. Bet Crawford does, though. Having said that, he could take his chances, retire, or do a Joe Lieberman. I did find out a night or two ago, however, that if he changes to GOP, he has a good chance of facing a GOP primary as well. A piece of bad news....if you look closely at that poll, it targets mostly Democrats. And yet, 66% appear to favor the marriage amendment. Am I reading that wrong?

Don't do like they did in New Hampshire.

And pass out ballots from dead people.