Elon University released a poll last week that showed a solid majority of North Carolinians believe Donald Trump bears responsibility for the attack on the Capitol. It also shows that a narrow plurality supports the impeachment proceedings against him and narrow majority believes he should be banned from ever running for office again. I also think the crosstabs gives us a hint of who the persuadable voters are in the state.
In this polarized world, partisans fall into fairly predictable patterns. Democrat approve of the way Joe Biden is handling his job, Republicans don’t. Less than a quarter of Republicans think Trump was responsible for the Capitol riots, while 87% of Democrats do. Almost 80% of Democrats support impeachment proceedings while 84% of Republicans do not.
The independent voters, though, give us the insight into who the swing voters are in the state. People who chose “neither” when asked party identification may actually be partisan even if they don’t identify with a party. They tend to lean Democratic. Pluralities approve of the jobs that Joe Biden (42-29) and Roy Cooper (46-30) are doing. A solid majority, 61%, believes Trump is at least somewhat responsible for the assault on the Capitol and 45% think he should be impeached while 39% don’t.
However, almost 30% answered “don’t know” when asked about Joe Biden’s job performance and 25% answered the same about Roy Cooper. I suspect those people are the bulk of the real swing voters in the state. According the poll, 35% of the respondence didn’t identify with a party. Of those, between 25% and 30% don’t make decisions based on partisanship. That’s about 10% or less of the electorate.
I suspect those swing voters tend to be younger and less educated. Twenty percent of people with less than a bachelor’s degree cannot rate Joe Biden’s performance, while 21% cannot rate Roy Cooper. In contrast, only nine percent of people with a bachelor’s or more can’t rate Cooper and only 13% can’t rate Biden. Twenty-two percent of people 18-24 can’t rate Biden and 35% can’t rate Cooper. (On a side note, those breaks would be more helpful is the age was 18-29.)
I’m reading a lot into a single poll, but what I’m guessing is that about 10% of the electorate is persuadable. There are not enough votes in this group of swing voters to win the state, because nobody is going to sweep them. A 55% margin among those voters only yields about 50,000 or so in presidential year like 2020, and much less in a mid-term. However, Democratic top-of-the-ticket campaigns continue to spend the vast majority of their budgets trying to win these voters. It’s a losing strategy–unless you’re Roy Cooper.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >