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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.

The Week In Politics: Chicken, Polls, And Smartphone Apps

Couche Tard/Flickr

We heard a lot about chicken last week regarding the Chick-Fil-A and gay marriage.

So, in response to that controversy, Public Policy Polling conducted a poll on . . . chicken. The poll found that Chick-Fil-A is North Carolina’s favorite fast-food chicken restaurant. It’s preferred by 40 percent of voters. KFC is second at 23 percent, followed by Bojangles at 18 percent.

And, yes, there is an ideological split. Conservatives prefer Chick-Fil-A. Liberals prefer KFC.
Political analyst, J. Michael Blitzer, who’s never chicken, joined Morning Edition host Duncan McFadyen to talk polls.

MCFADYEN: Let’s talk about another poll by Public Policy Polling released this week. The poll shows Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory ahead of Democrat Walter Dalton by a margin of 45 to 38 percent. The McCrory campaign quickly highlighted the poll. But it was just a few months ago that McCrory criticized PPP because an employee of the firm said Democrats would need to eviscerate McCrory to win. Now, PPP is based in Raleigh and is the most widely cited polling firm by North Carolina media outlets---including WFAE. How much credibility should we give PPP polls, and polls in general?

BITZER: Well, PPP is definitely a Democratic-leaning firm; they acknowledge that. But what polling firms try to do is replicate what they believe is going to be the electorate on Election Day. And so if they’re out skewing their results one way or the other, that would send a very bad signal. They’re in a self-interest mode: they want to report and reflect the electorate at large. PPP is more Democratic, Rasmussen is more Republican. If you were to take the two and average them out, I think you would get a clearer picture of what the public is thinking about.

MCFADYEN: So now that you’ve basically said it’s okay to use these polls, let me ask you about another one. Also in the governor’s race, this week’s poll says 71 percent of North Carolinians think that the gubernatorial candidates should release their tax returns, 19 percent think they shouldn’t have to…10 percent aren’t sure. We should point out that Democrat Walter Dalton has released two years of his returns; Republican Pat McCrory has not. Dalton’s campaign is hammering McCrory on this. Why does this matter?

BITZER: I think this is spillover from the national race. The Democrats, particularly President Obama, has been hammering Mitt Romney to release his tax records. It’s just overflow, spillover to the governor’s race something that Walter Dalton is going to use to try to frame Pat McCrory in. I doubt it’s going to be the most pressing issue come November. But it’s just one of those ways that campaigns try and chide one another and try to get a political advantage.

MCFADYEN: Moving on to the presidential campaign. The Obama campaign has released a new smartphone app that actually allows you to map where Democrats live in your city, at the street level. What is this sort of technology going to do for the campaign?

BITZER: I think it’s just another indicator of how much social media has become the most reliable form of campaigning at the grass roots level. We’ve tended to see people sorting themselves into like-minded enighborhoods, “I’m gonna live in an area that reflects my values.” The Obama campaign is going to use this to tap into that grassroots network and energize the base. It’s all going to be about turnout this fall. Any of these techniques they can use certainly will help come the fall.

MCFADYEN: But isn’t there a “Big Brother” factor to this? I think the only other kind of app you can do this with contains a list of sex offenders…

BITZER: It can be a little creepy feeling, but I think they’re going to use it to galvanize the base and get people energized. Campaigns do this all the time with canvassing.  This just makes it a lot easier for people to get together for neighborhood meetings, generate opportunities to watch the convention in their homes. This is something that all campaigns are going to be using in the future.