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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.

Pundit forcecasts GOP will retain control of the N.C. Senate

Republican political pundit John Davis issued a report earlier this week predicting Republicans will retain control of the N.C. Senate.

The prediction is not surprising -- even some Democrats concede the Senate is a lost cause after GOP-led redistricting. Republicans control the body now 31 to 19. Right now, Davis' scorecard forecasts nearly the same party breakdown (31R to 18D). The only toss up race is Senate District 50, featuring a rematch with Republican incumbent Jim Davis against former incumbent Democrat John Snow.

N&O Pundit Panel: Etheridge embraces Washington, Dalton gets into policy weeds

The News & Observer asked four area political pundits to share their reaction about Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate. Here are their thoughts:

Andy Taylor, political scientist at N.C. State University: “The candidates are really beginning to distinguish themselves. Faison was feisty, repeatedly using language that the party’s base would approve of. Etheridge discussed his experience and steady hand, embracing his Washington record in a way you just don’t see candidates doing these days. Dalton, perhaps because he is left with no choice, projected himself as a technocrat, full of practical ideas.”

Thomas Mills, Democratic political strategist and co-founder of Bates & Mills Consulting in Carrboro: “The candidates’ closing arguments summed up their appearances pretty well. Walter Dalton talked about programs and policies; Bob Etheridge talked about experience and leadership; and Bill Faison talked about himself.”

Reclamation fundraiser

Republicans haven't had a majority in the state Senate in more than a century, but candidates are feeling good about their chances this election. 

An invitation to a fundraiser for Republican state Senate candidates invites contributors to help "Reclaim the NC Senate." The reclamation will cost donors a minimum of $100, up to $1,000.

The fundraiser, sponsored by Raleigh lawyer Kieran Shanahan and agribusinessman Frank Grainger, is Wednesday at the downtown Raleigh restaurant Caffe Luna. Political consultant John Davis is the guest speaker.

Basnight aims at Davis

Senate Leader Marc Basnight may not have a favorite political analyst, but he has a least favorite: John Davis.

Davis is the former director of the North Carolina Forum for Research and Economic Education who last year incorrectly predicted a Republican takeover of the state senate, Mark Johnson reports. The GOP gained one seat.

"He is not a credible source," Basnight told Dome last week. "Somebody needs to question him about his accuracy."

Davis says Basnight’s unhappiness stems from Davis’ advice to businesses that were members of NCFREE that they stop giving money to Democratic Senate leaders. Davis argued that, while Basnight and other top Democrats in the Senate were pro-business, they gave much of their money to the Democratic Party, who used it to support Democratic senate candidates in other districts who were not business-friendly.

"They didn’t like me saying (to businesses): 'Stop giving money to the leadership because you lose control of where it’s spent and it’s being spent to beat your best friend,'" Davis said.

Davis' most recent North Carolina political report ended with the advice: "vote Republican."

Basnight's potshot

Say What?
"Long shot? It weren't even a shot."
— Senate leader Marc Basnight on a prediction by political consultant John Davis that Republicans had a "long shot" chance at taking the Senate this year. Democrats lost only one seat. Quoted in the Greensboro News-Record on Nov. 10, 2008.

Davis: Business will man up to labor

While labor made gains in North Carolina this year, big business got a little less organized.

At the same time that the SEIU and SEANC were playing a stronger role in state elections, the biggest advocacy group for corporate interests essentially disbanded.

But John Davis, the former head of N.C. FREE, said that doesn't mean business is any less powerful.

"Business still has the upper hand in this state," said Davis, now an independent consultant. "I think what you're seeing with labor is the beginnings of them becoming a serious player in North Carolina. They're a serious player at the state legislative level, but I think you're going to see them grow exponentially."

As head of N.C. FREE for 23 years, Davis said he didn't see labor spending begin in earnest here until the 2004 and 2006 elections, in part because of the growing role of so-called 527 groups, which can run independent political campaigns.

He cited SEIU's contributions to FairJudges.net in 2006 and to the Alliance for North Carolina this year as evidence of their growing role. While N.C. FREE is not around to represent business interests, he said groups like the N.C. Chamber may play a larger role, as will ad hoc groups like the one that opposed the transfer tax.

"I don't expect business to do anything but man up to labor," he said. "They have the resources to do battle politically, and they'll find some way to do it."

Rankings on the Senate race

Analysts think the Senate race is Kay Hagan's to lose.

A quick survey of the major political observers in the days leading up to the election show that they either rank the race as a toss-up or say it favors Hagan slightly:

N.C. consultant John Davis: Hagan win

UNC-Chapel Hill prof Leroy Towns: Hagan win

Democratic consultant Gary Pearce: Hagan win

Winston-Salem Journal managing editor Ken Otterbourg: Hagan win 

Liberal N.C. blogger Kirk Ross: Hagan win

Conservative N.C. blogger Dan Gearino: Hagan win 

Magic Eight Ball: Hagan win 

Five Thirty Eight: Likely Democrat

Washington Post: Sixth Most Likely to Switch Parties

Rothenberg Political Report: Leans Hagan

University of Virginia prof Larry Sabato: Leans Democrat 

Congressional Quarterly: Leans Democrat

Cook Political Report: Toss-up

New York Times: Toss-up

MSNBC's Chuck Todd: Nailbiter

N.C. State politics prof Andy Taylor: Dole win

Rankings on the presidential race

Analysts say North Carolina is a presidential toss-up.

A quick survey of the major political observers in the days leading up to the election shows an even split, with several refusing to predict:

Liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas: Obama by seven points

Republican strategist Ed Rollins: Obama by three points

Newsweek editor Eleanor Clift: Obama by three points

Talk show host Bill Maher: Obama by three points

Arianna Huffington: Obama by two points

Roll Call editor Mort Kondracke: Obama by one point

Five Thirty Eight's Nate Silver: Obama by 0.6 of a point

Liberal N.C. blogger Kirk Ross: Obama by 0.5 to 1.5 points

University of Virginia prof Larry Sabato: Obama win

Republican firm CAJ Consultants: Obama win

N.C. consultant Gary Pearce: Obama win

UNC-Chapel Hill prof Leroy Towns: Obama win

N.C. consultant John Davis: Obama win

Conservative N.C. blogger Dan Gearino: Obama win

Facing South's Chris Kromm: Leans Obama

Conservative columnist George F. Will: Obama win "not startling"

Rothenberg Political Report: Toss-up

Congressional Quarterly: No Clear Favorite

Cook Political Report: Toss-up

New York Times: Toss-up

MSNBC's Chuck Todd: Nailbiter

Magic Eight Ball: McCain win

Winston-Salem Journal editor Ken Otterbourg: McCain win

Republican consultant Karl Rove: McCain win

N.C. consultant Carter Wrenn: McCain win

N.C. State politics prof Andy Taylor: McCain win

Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza: McCain by two points

Politico editor Charles Mahtesian: McCain by two points

"Hardball" host Chris Matthews: McCain by two points

NPR analyst Juan Williams: McCain by two points

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr: McCain by three to six points 

Red State editor Erick Erickson: McCain by three points

Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey: McCain by three points

Conservative editor Fred Barnes: McCain by five points

Rankings on the governor's race

Analysts don't know who will win the governor's race.

A quick survey of local and national political observers in the days leading up to the election shows that there's little agreement beyond the fact that it's a close race:

N.C. State politics prof Andy Taylor: Perdue win 

Democratic consultant Gary Pearce: Perdue win 

Congressional Quarterly: Leans Democrat

Cook Political Report: "Toss-up"

Rothenberg Political Report: "Toss-up"

MSNBC's Chuck Todd: "Nailbiter"

Washington Post: "Third Most Likely to Switch Parties"

N.C. consultant John Davis: McCrory win

UNC-Chapel Hill prof Leroy Towns: McCrory win

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