|Photo courtesy of Scott McIntyre.|
The release of Rasmussen's first post North Carolina Senate GOP primary survey reminded me of Nate Cohn's New York Times article from last week, titled 'Why The Democrats Turnout Problem Is Worst In North Carolina.' The piece provided some useful information pertaining to North Carolina voting demographics from the 2010 midterm election, especially considering the fact that no exit poll was conducted in the state that year.
For example, per Cohn, the white percentage of the 2010 North Carolina midterm electorate was six points whiter than in 2012 (77% vs. 71%, respectively). The black vote was three points lower than in 2012 (20% vs. 23%), while the '65 years & older' age group was 6 points higher (26% vs. 20%). Naturally, this is all good news for Republicans, as they typically perform stronger with white voters than minorities, and older voters vs younger.
In light of the information provided in the New York Times piece, lets consider how the Rasmussen survey results would have differed applying 2010-like race and age statistics.
Tillis leads Hagan overall in the survey 45-44%. Among white voters only, his lead grows to 26 points, or 57-31%. For what it's worth, that's a good deal less impressive than Romney's 68-31% advantage over Obama in 2012, when he carried the state overall by two points. Rasmussen also finds that white voters make up 72% of the NC electorate, vs. 77% in 2010. Those numbers are more in line with 2012 style turnout than 2010. So what would Rasmussen have found if survey respondents had been more illustrative of 2010 racial identification (all other findings remaining the same)?
What was a virtual tie between Tillis and Hagan becomes...welll...less of a tie. The Republican's lead is still within the four point margin of error, but he does add a bit more distance between himself and the incumbent.
A similar occurrence is seen when applying 2010-age identification to the Rasmussen survey. Tillis leads among the oldest of voters, 62-35% (while younger voters spring for Hagan, 46-29%). Rasmussen found just 20% of North Carolina likely voters identifying as being over the age of sixty-five years old, though they made up 26% of the electorate in 2010. How would the Rasmussen results have looked with a larger pool of older voters?
Again, not a significant shift, but definite movement in Tillis's direction. The bottom line is that, if you buy Rasmussen's numbers, Tillis is starting the general election against Hagan with an advantage regardless of which electorate - presidential or midterm - shows up.