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NC Gov Is Race To Watch

While national Republicans have their favorite candidate and Democrats would be happy with either of their top two contenders, both primaries to replace outgoing North Carolina Governor Mike Easley look like close races, a new survey shows. With few governors contests truly contested this year, both parties are going to play in the Tar Heel State, and the primary could have a dramatic impact on which party retains a leg up in November.

The survey, from Mason-Dixon for WRAL-TV, polled 400 likely Democratic primary voters and 400 likely Republican primary voters for margins of error of +/- 4.9% each. The Democratic side included Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue, Treasurer Richard Moore and retired Air Force Colonel Dennis Nielsen. The Republican slate was made up of State Senator Fred Smith, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, attorney Bill Graham and former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr.

Primary Election Matchups
Perdue 45
Moore 34
Nielsen 1

Smith 32
McCrory 31
Graham 7
Orr 5

McCrory is by far the most moderate of the Republicans, and many had speculated that a divided conservative base could help McCrory take the nomination. But with Orr and Graham failing to gain serious traction, Smith has steadily gained in a number of polls. No matter the incumbent, the Mayor of Charlotte always seems to have a rough time winning different jobs.

The Democratic race has been ugly for months, and though both candidates would likely outraise their Republican opponents, the winner of Tuesday's primary will have to spend some time healing the base before they get down to appealing to independents. If Perdue pulls out a big win, it would make that job easier, but a tight contest will only lead to bitter feelings.