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The Party Line is dedicated to examining regional issues and policies through the figures who give shape to them. These are critical, complex, and even downright confusing times we live in. There’s a lot to navigate nationally and in the Carolinas; whether it’s elections, debates on gay marriage, public school closings, or tax incentives for economic development. The Party Line’s goal is to offer a provocative, intelligent look at the issues and players behind the action; a view that ultimately offers the necessary insight for Carolina voters to hold public servants more accountable.

Can The Presidential Race Be That Tight This Early? Yup.

Gallup Polling released a great set of data on their weekly tracking of the presidential race, with a 46-46 tie between the Democrat and Republican.  For the most part, it tracks with what other polls are saying about the Obama-Romney contest: with five months to go, it’s pretty much tied up with very few folks undecided. 

This isn’t really that unusual, considering what happened in 2008. Nationally, those who identified with one of the two major parties said they voted for their party’s nominee 90 percent of the time.  Among the independents, they split 52-44 percent for Obama.

In North Carolina, we saw the same general trend among Tar Heel partisans (90 percent of self-identified Democrats voted for Obama, 95 percent of self-identified Republicans voted for McCain), but independents went 60-39 percent for McCain.

The key to 2008, though, was that Democrats saw their share of the electorate increase to 42 percent from 39 percent from 2004, while Republicans dropped from 40 percent to 31 percent.

So it’s going to be a contest of “who shows up,” as it always is. But should we expect anything different as to the partisan polarization (some would say allegiance) this year?  Early indications appear to be a resounding “no” to that question.

A great resource to track the various polls (with links) is via Real Clear Politics website, with a page devoted to just North Carolina polls on the presidential race.

In consolidating various polls and arranging them in chronological order (see Figure 1), we see some general patterns emerge since the beginning of 2012.