Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Even more curiouser and curiouser: the Munger Effect in North Carolina

Yesterday Public Policy Polling released its latest presidential numbers for North Carolina, and I did a detailed examination of the so-called Barr Effect.

This poll focuses on State offices (Governor down), and the only Libertarian it considers is gubernatorial candidate Michael Munger. This makes sense when you realize that it was only two days ago that the Libertarian Party of North Carolina announced its slate of 38 candidates statewide. Hopefully, by the time PPP does its next poll, we'll see at least a little impact from some of them.

Michael Munger, however, is already having a BIG impact on the race.

Democrat Bev Perdue now leads Republican Pat McCrory by one point (42-41%). Michael Munger is up to polling 5%, with undecided at 12%. Most pundits had assumed, when Munger entered the race, that any votes he pulled would come from McCrory. But--as with Bob Barr--the reality is far more complex.

Munger gets 5% of women, 6% of men--no real surprise there.

Munger gets 3% of Democrats, 5% of Republicans, and 13% of independents. As with Bob Barr I speculate that many of these independents are actually the thousands of Libertarians disenfranchises by the State two years ago. Barr, however, carried equal numbers of Dems and GOPers--Munger clearly is playing better with Republicans.

Like Barr, however, Munger is showing strongly among non-white voters: the Libertarian gets only 4% of white voters, 7% of African-Americans, and 18% of Other. Presumably, Other in NC is primarily hispanic.

Why are both Barr and Munger actually doing better among African-American voters and other minorities than they are among whites? I'll hazard one wild guess below.

With respect to age groups, Munger is clearly polling better among the younger voters than Barr:

18-29: 10%
20-45: 5%
46-65: 4%
Over 65: 4%

For comparison, here are Barr's numbers (and his base in the overall voting is also 5%):

Age 18-29: 7%
Age 30-45: 3%
Age 46-65: 6%
Older than 65: 7%

Barr has a clearly more social conservative message than Munger, which accounts for the fact that his support goes up as voters get older. Munger's tails off; but more of the younger Ron Paul-type voters seem to cotton to Munger.

Issue-specific, here's how Munger fares (with Barr's numbers for the same issues in parenthesis for comparison):

War in Iraq: 5% (5%)
Education: 2% (2%)
Economy and Jobs: 4% (3%)
Taxes: 13% (12%)
Moral and Family Issues: (5%) 6%
Health Care: 2% (8%)
Immigration: 11% (18%)

There is remarkable consistency between the numbers that Barr and Munger post on everything but Health Care and Immigration, both of which show Barr doing significantly better. I can't explain the Health Care numbers, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the possibility that Barr's rather un-Libertarian views on Immigration (which have caused a ruckus in the blogosphere) are playing better among Tarheel voters than Mike Munger's far more measured stance.

Which does not mean, Mike, that I think you should start going all xenophobic on me.

Taxes are clearly Munger's best issue, and I think that could--if we can get him into a damn debate--bleed over some into Economy and Jobs.

One final question: will the spoiler avoidance effect hurt Michael? When it comes right down to it, if voting for Munger is perceived as costing the GOP the election, will Munger's 5% hold up? I don't know. But since he's actually gained ground in the past month, I'm cautiously hopeful.

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