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Pat McCrory’s Libertarian Problem

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During his seven-term stint as Charlotte’s mayor, Pat McCrory did little to win favor with the lean-right conservative base of the Republican Party. Indeed, from his cheerleading for light rail to his cozy ties with the uptown lunch bunch, McCrory in many cases actively ostracized the same, leaving small-government, liberty-minded voters with a stale taste in the mouths.

How does that bode for McCrory’s gubernatorial bid? Not so good, in turns out, according to the latest Civitas poll (600 participants, of which 558 were identified as registered to vote). The results show McCrory’s lead over Democrat Walter Dalton shrinking dramatically when voters are presented with a third option on the ballot, namely Libertarian candidate Barbara Howe.

McCrory was 10 percentage points ahead of Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton when they clashed head-to-head in the regular May Civitas Poll. In the Flash Poll taken June 29-July 1, however, McCrory led Dalton by the slim margin of 46 percent to 44 percent. Granville County resident Howe was the choice of 7 percent of those polled.

“Although the polls differ somewhat in format, the data suggests that a significant portion of McCrory’s support shifted to Howe when given the chance,” Civitas President Francis X. De Luca said. “To win those votes in November, McCrory likely will have to persuade libertarian-minded voters that he too wants to and can rein in out-of-control government.”

Four years ago, McCrory lost Mecklenburg County – quite literally his backyard – to Bev Perdue by less than 400 votes, while Libertarian candidate Michael Munger scooped up 8,234 votes. There’s no guarantee that any of those votes would’ve gone to McCrory, but it’s likely a safe bet that at least some of them would have if McCrory had done more (i.e. anything) to try to win them. Statewide, Munger racked up almost 122,000 votes in the 2008 contest, which McCrory ultimately lost to Perdue by about 145,000.

So exit question for all the Libertarians out there: What, if anything, would it require from McCrory to get your vote in November, or has that ship already sailed too far from shore?

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