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NC poll asks whether sexual orientation of a candidate matters

A John William Pope Civitas Institute poll from this month asked NC voters whether they would support an openly gay candidate. The results are interesting. The spin on the instutute’s release is a conservative take, though if you look at the results more closely, it’s actually more favorable than it appears.

First, the response to a generic out gay candidate:

However, look at the results when the same people were asked about the specific candidates in the race, neither has strong name recognition at this point. In the potential Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate:

* 69% of Democrats are unsure in an election between State Senator Kay Hagan and [openly gay] Jim Neal, a Dem fundraiser and investment banker from Chapel Hill.

* In the general election, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole leads Hagan, 46%-29%

* Dole leads Neal 47%-27%

That’s within the margin of error, folks, and once people get to know Jim Neal the person, not the strawman, there will be even less apprehension on the matter of sexual orientation, not more. In fact, the poll indicates that 53% of North Carolina voters actually don’t know or give a damn about a candidate’s orientation. That’s hardly hotbed of homophobia in the Tar Heel state, certainly not evidence to justify the homo-paranoia of Chuck Schumer, the DSCC and the insiders who felt the need to recruit a heterosexual into the race, not even bothering to give Jim Neal a courtesy of a phone call.

Even Civitas Institute President Jack Hawke noted the numbers did not shut the door to a win by an out gay candidate.

“An openly gay candidate does not face an impossible scenario in North Carolina, but certainly a very difficult one,” according to Hawke. “A few other candidates have been able to overcome strongly negative polling to win. Senator Hillary Clinton has overcome very negative personal polling numbers to become the leading Democratic candidate for president. Here in North Carolina former Senator Jesse Helms was elected five times with strong negative opinion in each of his elections.”

People who want to preempt Jim Neal or any out gay candidate’s chance to run on equal footing, is clearly unfair, since Tar Heel voters are clearly willing to consider a person’s character and experience, even if it challenges assumptions and prejudices.

We cannot break down the barriers of bigotry with Democratic leadership that hasn’t the stones to do actual homework about the reality of a gay candidate’s chances before jumping the gun to try to avoid the issue. Let the people decide, not outsiders in a smoke-filled room in DC or NY who are haunted by the gay strawman.

Here’s the methodology: Tel Opinion Research of Alexandria, Va. conducted the poll on November 16-21 with live telephone interviews of 800 registered voters, who voted in the 2002 and 2004 general elections, were first time voters in the 2006 general election, or voted in 2004 and 2006 as newly registered voters. It has a margin of error of +-3.7 percent.

Jim Neal on the Mike Signorile Show:

Jim Neal’s official campaign web site.
Jim Neal’s ActBlue contribution page.
Jim Neal for Senate Facebook group.

Recap of live blog with U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal

DSCC – Where’s Jim Neal?
Report: DSCC scrambled to find hetero challenger to run against Elizabeth Dole
U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal at the Equality NC Conference and Gala
NC: Dems ‘come out’ to take on Jim Neal
North Carolina numbers for Neal and DSCC skullduggery

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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