Political reporters are used to being criticized for focusing too much on the horse race.
But in the wake of a poll by the N&O, the Charlotte Observer, WNCN-TV in Raleigh and WCNC in Charlotte, some commentators — including Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling and Democratic consultant Gary Pearce — have complained about our data on the races.
To be clear, our pollsters were not trying to figure out who will show up on May 6 and how they'll vote, but rather to get the mood of the electorate on the issues.
To that end, they did not use a list of people who have voted in past elections to determine likely voters — the method used by Public Policy Polling, among others, in tracking polls. Instead, our pollsters called random numbers, then asked if respondents were registered to vote and intended to vote.
That may be one reason why the number of undecided voters is much higher than in some other polls. It also makes our "horse race" numbers a little less reliable, which is why our reporters did not stress them in the leads of the stories.
As the May 6 primary nears, the pool of likely voters may shift, but the issues will remain the same.