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In new Democratic polling, some state lawmakers looking vulnerable

The upheaval from the legislative session continues to reverberate as lawmakers look at what it did for their prospects in 2014. Voters are wavering, Republicans are openly discussing a course-correction next year and the N.C. Democratic Party is trying to capitalize. And now, it's showing in legislative district polls.

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm based in Raleigh, recently looked at eight state Senate districts held by Republicans, finding two leaning Democrat and six more in the toss-up category. PPP pollster Tom Jensen writes that "the political landscape has shifted in such a way that Democrats have a lot more opportunities to eat into the Republican majority next year than could have ever been imagined even six months ago."


Morning Memo: Harris to enter Senate race; Black Caucus wants DHHS inquiry

MARK HARRIS TO MAKE U.S. SENATE BID OFFICIAL: Rev. Mark Harris plans to tell supporters Thursday that he’s decided to enter the race for Republican U.S. Senate nomination early next month, party sources told the Charlotte Observer. Harris, pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church and president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, has been on a "listening tour" around the state.

He’s expected to announce Oct. 2. Harris would join a list of GOP candidates that include House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius and Dr. Greg Brannon of Cary. The winner would face Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

WHERE CONGRESS STANDS ON SYRIA: An interactive graphic makes it easy to see where North Carolina’s congressional delegation -- and those in other states -- stand on the Syria question. Take a look here.

***Below in the Dome Morning Memo -- the latest on the DHHS salary controversy and state elections inquiry of a lawmaker’s campaign spending.***

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***

Despite tough numbers, Hagan still tops possible GOP challengers

Democrat Kay Hagan's popularity isn't improving but Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling suggests the N.C. General Assembly may drag Republicans down even further.

The Democratic polling firm's latest numbers show Hagan's approval essentially even at 43 percent to 45 percent disapproval. But compared to potential Republican challengers, she is doing much better.

Gov. McCrory holds steady; GOP legislature, legislation not popular in new poll

Gov. Pat McCrory remains popular in North Carolina but his Republican colleagues in state government and the legislature are underwater.

The governor -- recently named one of the most conservative in the nation -- received 49 percent job approval with 36 percent disapproving. Another 15 percent remain undecided, according to the latest survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

With his numbers holding steady for the past few months, McCrory is faring much better than Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, whose neared negative territory about this point into her term.

Magazine lists PPP's Tom Jensen among 36 most powerful people in politics

Raleigh pollster Tom Jensen landed on Business Insider magazine's list of the 36 most powerful people in politics, joining the likes of Bill Clinton, Chris Christie, Michelle Obama and Karl Rove.

Jensen, a Chapel Hill resident, is the chief pollster at Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm that does automated polling. Business Insider writes: "Largely unknown prior to the 2012 campaign, Jensen's North Carolina-based firm ended up being the most reliable public pollster of the election. The firm correctly predicted the winner of the presidential race in all 50 states, and at the end of the election, PPP was rated as the most accurate polling company of the campaign.

Morning Roundup: Big money defined state races in 2012

In North Carolina, big money mattered. It fueled million-dollar legislative campaigns and lifted Republicans to record majorities in the state House and Senate. Political parties, especially Republicans, unleashed their firepower. And outside spending topped $14 million, according to the Institute for Southern Studies. More than $12 million was spent on just 10 races. Read more here.

More political headlines:

--The 2012 presidential election will be remembered as the year of the pollster. And Raleigh’s Public Policy Polling finished at the top of the list. Read a Q-and-A with pollster Tom Jensen about the firm's secrets.

Final PPP poll: Presidential race tied, McCrory's lead shrinks

The final poll before the election in North Carolina showed the presidential race deadlocked and the governor's race tightening a bit.

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are tied at 49 percent, according to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm that surveyed likely voters Saturday and Sunday. It's the firm's third poll in a row to show a tie. Obama built an advantage in early voting, the poll found, 54 percent to 45 percent, but Romney will have an advantage with those planning to vote on Election Day, 57 percent to 41 percent.

In the governor's race, Republican Pat McCrory continues to lead -- but his double-digit advantage is shrinking. McCrory received 50 percent to 43 percent for Democrat Walter Dalton.

Republicans keeping down ballot races close, poll shows

The often-overlooked races for the state's top posts are surprisingly close this campaign season with Republican challengers keeping it close against Democratic incumbents, according to a new poll.

In the lieutenant governor's race, Republican Dan Forest and Democrat Linda Coleman are essentially tied, a Public Policy Polling sruvey shows, with Forest holding a one-point advantage (38 to 37 percent) within the margin of error.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, a Democratic incumbent who won  by 14 points in 2008, leads Republican challenger Ed Goodwin, a first-time statewide candidate by just six points, 43 percent to 37 percent. Democratic Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin leads Republican rival Mike Causey by four points. Goodwin won in 2008 by seven percentage points.

"The Republican strength at the top of the ticket looks to be making the other statewide offices more competitive than usual this year as well," writes pollster Tom Jensen with PPP, a Democratic firm.

And the winner of the Dome election pool is ...

Tom Jensen is the guru at Public Policy Polling -- so it's probably no surprise he won Dome's election pool.

Jensen guessed four out of five questions correctly. He admitted to guessing in the GOP presidential contest and not using any poll data. The one he missed: the governor's race. He called Walter Dalton by 7 percent. Dalton won 8 percent. (He received partial credit and won with 4 1/2 points.)

It was a close race. Dome user inandoh had 4 points -- a half-point away from a win because of a better guess than Jensen on overall turnout.

Out of more than 30 entires, no one guessed everything right. But plenty of people beat the Dome political team. Top finishers (three points and above): dcope, stevefm, danmanley2299, Sam Spencer and Jim Blaine.

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