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Morning Memo: McCrory opposed to new casino; Hagan still trumps GOP rivals

McCRORY OPPOSES CATAWBA CASINO: The Catawba Nation has filed an application with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs in a first step toward gaining permission to build a casino and resort in Cleveland County. But Gov. Pat McCrory declined requests to endorse the application, a spokesman said Monday. In his first comments on the project, the governor's office said McCrory “remains unconvinced that any new casino proposal is in the best interest of North Carolina.” Read more here.

2014 U.S. SENATE POLL: Look for a new Public Policy Polling survey on North Carolina's U.S. Senate race later today. In a preview, Politico reports that Democrat Kay Hagan is still trumping her GOP rivals and Senate leader Phil Berger is slightly edging House Speaker Thom Tillis in a hypothetical GOP primary-- though nearly half of voters are still unsure.

***Get a full N.C. political news roundup below in the Dome Morning Memo. Send news and tips to***

The "influencers"

Campaigns & Elections, a trade magazine for politicos, named the top "political influencers" in its latest edition. Ten from each state made it to the list.

Five Republicans and five Democrats, a mix of North Carolina lobbyists and campaign consultants, got the nod.

The five Republicans: John Davis of John Davis Consulting; Tom Fetzer, lobbyist and former Raleigh mayor and state GOP chairman; lobbyist Dana Simpson; political consultant Carter Wrenn; and political consultant Chris Sinclair. Davis is actually unaffiliated.

The five Democrats: Political consultant Brad Crone; consultant Mike Davis; strategist Scott Falmlen, a former state Democratic Party executive director; lobbyist Bruce Thompson; and Andrew Whalen, consultant for the Blue Dog Coalition and a former state Democratic Party executive director.

New GOP consulting firm starting up

A new Republican consulting group is setting up shop.

Chris Sinclair of Public Solutions and Alastair Macaulay of Cornerstone Strategy and Communications announced that they will merge.

The new firm, called Cornerstone Solutions, will be a full-service political consulting, strategic communications and issue management firm in North Carolina.

Sinclair said in an e-mail to Dome that they plan to fill the void left by the retirement of Tom Fetzer and Mark Stephens after the November elections.

"We're the new (Republican) kids on the block," he said.

The two consultants have a lot of experience on the hot-button issue of real estate. Both have helped the N.C. Association of Realtors successfully fend off land transfer taxes nearly two dozen times and another campaign against allowing counties to have the tax.

Alastair is the former political director for the N.C. Home Builders Association.

The firm will have an office in West Palm Beach, Fla., headed by Rick Asnani, and in Raleigh and Washington, D.C.

Candidates to meet for pig-picking

Local and state candidates will gather next Tuesday.

The Triangle Community Coalition, a pro-development business group, will holds its seventh annual pig picking at the always incongruous Brier Creek Country Club in Raleigh.

The event, which usually draws a healthy crowd, will feature stump speeches from more than 20 candidates for Congress, the legislature and local county boards.  

This year, the annual straw poll will be conducted electronically on eight computers around the room.

"No  more mismarked ballots — and yes, no 'hanging chads,'" coalition representative Chris Sinclair writes Dome. 

The pig picking will be held form 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available here.

More on N.C. Poll problems

Brad Crone says he made a math mistake.

The Democratic political consultant, who is starting a new monthly poll with Republican consultant Chris Sinclair, said that a Dome reader's complaint about the crosstabs is correct.

"I made a mistake on the gender tabs pulling respondent data from the wrong column," he wrote Dome. "It was an oversight on my part."

The new figures show Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue with 38 percent of women and 36 percent of men and state Treasurer Richard Moore with 32 percent of women and 26 percent of men, among likely Democratic voters.

He said the poll is "solid," despite what critics have said.

"If they don't like the data then that's their problem," he wrote Dome. "We are developing a new poll and will work hard for it and will stand behind it."

Gender X Cross.pdf

Questioning the polling questions

Has your family hit the limit when it comes to new taxes?

That was a question in a recent poll by Brad Crone and Chris Sinclair, a Democratic and a Republican consultant who hope to sell subscriptions to their new polling service.

Alert reader bnartist questioned the question, noting that Crone had recently used it in a poll for the N.C. Association of Realtors, which opposed a local-option transfer tax.

Crone said the question came from a focus group in January.

"A guy was sitting there and he said, 'My family has hit the limit when it comes to new taxes,'" Crone recalled.

He said that he has since used the question in two statewide polls because it helps him judge "the tax factor" in people's thinking on an issue.

Also: Crone sent Dome the crosstabs on the Democratic gubernatorial race, which some readers had contested. Polling geeks, have at it!

NC Poll Xtabs Q8 Tables.pdf

Bipartisan polling firm started

Two Raleigh firms are teaming up to start a monthly poll.

Campaign Connections, a Democratic consulting firm run by Brad Crone, and Public Solutions, a Republican firm run by Chris Sinclair, have started the North Carolina Poll.

The monthly poll will be available to subscribers, who will also be able to submit questions for the survey. It will be a "live operator" poll, with no automated computers.

In the first poll, a survey of 810 likely primary voters, Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue got 35 percent among Democratic voters for governor, beating Richard Moore, who got 29 percent.

Undecided voters, who made up about 30 percent, were mainly white urban women age 25-50 with children and high income and education levels as well as African-American voters.

Among Republicans running for governor, gas tax activist Bill Graham was first with 22 percent, followed closely by state Sen. Fred Smith at 21 percent, and former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr at 16 percent.

Undecided voters, who made up about 37 percent, were mainly white urban men and women who consider themselves moderate to conservative with high income and education levels.

The margin of error was 4.5 percentage points.

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