Party line vs. Vegas line

by Yes Weekly Election Coverage

Jim Messina, Barack Obama’s campaign director, made a triumphant announcement from the floor of the 2012 Democratic National Convention last week.

“No state has registered more voters than the great, blue state of North Carolina!” he said.

He was speaking about the current election cycle, of course — the only one that matters. And Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the 2012 DNC echoed the talking point to a YES!

Weekly reporter: “We’ve had upwards of 100,000 new registrants in North Carolina this year,” he said.

Registered Democrats in NC don’t always vote in the blue column for presidential elections, making the numbers even more cryptic.

You can’t really blame Woodhouse for sounding bullish about his party’s prospects in this year’s election at their own convention, any more than you can blame his brother, Dallas, who is the North Carolina director for the right-wing group Americans for Prosperity, when he talks about President Obama’s “failing agen da” that is “failing North Carolina and failing America.” That’s what they do for money. But while brother Dallas’ words, rife with dog-whistle phrases though they may be, are short on specifics, brother Brad’s are more readily quantifiable. Voter registration numbers are easy to come by. A quick perusal through the State Board of Election website shows that, indeed, since January, more than 200,000 people’  have registered to vote in NC, an upwards tick of 3.4 percent.

But just 40,000 of them have registered as Democrats. Republicans got almost 50,000 new registered voters since January.

Libertarians claimed more than 3,000 of them, giving their party a 26.7 percent boost. More than half of the newly registered voters, 115,000 of them, came in as independents.

Totals for 2012 give the Ds 2.7 million, the Rs 1.9 million and the unaffiliated more than 1.5 million. How that will play out for the presidential candidates in November is a matter of much speculation.

Both Dems and the GOP lost registered voters since Barack Obama won the state in 2008 by a mere 14,000 votes, with the Dems bearing the brunt of the losses to the tune of 100,000 voters on the rolls, narrowing their lead of registered voters to a mere 750,000 or so souls.

But as we know, registered Democrats in NC don’t always vote in the blue column for presidential elections, making the numbers even more cryptic.

The key to North Carolina, as both parties know, lies in the unaffiliated voters, which now number 1.6 million, enough to swing the race either way.

And while it’s easy to get caught up in the party line amid that party’s quadrennial pep rally, Brad Woodhouse’s figures don’t seem to point to a sure thing for the incumbent in our state. Not at all.

There are still 60 days or so until the election, but as it stands, smart money says Romney takes North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes, and we mean the term “smart money” literally. The line in Las Vegas has Romney heavily favored in NC, -220 to 180, which means that you’d have to bet $220 on Romney just to win $100, while $100 on Obama wins $180.

It is worth noting that that same book puts the overall election in Obama’s hands, with odds of -190 to 155.

Pollsters and mouthpieces be damned. When you want an honest game, always look to Vegas.

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