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« Special Election Today For Deal's Georgia Seat | Blog Home Page | Coats Sees Kagan, Miers Link »

Elaine Marshall's Path To Victory

Thomas Mills, spokesman for the Elaine Marshall Senate campaign, says there is no conceivable way Cal Cunningham wins the June 22 primary runoff for the Democratic nomination in North Carolina.

"In a runoff election, Cal Cunningham has no path to victory," Mills concludes in a memo to reporters.

Indeed, while Marshall's 36 percent take in a multi-candidate primary was less than the 40 percent needed to win the nomination outright, she did have a commanding victory nonetheless.

Upon the Marshall campaign's calls for him to concede the nomination to Marshall, Cunningham, who finished second with 27 percent, noted that two-thirds of voters chose someone other than Marshall, a four-time statewide office holder whom Democratic voters know well.

While that's true, Marshall also won three-fourths of the state's 100 counties. In the counties she didn't win, she finished second.

Her 74-county take includes seven of the 10 biggest counties. Cunningham won two (Wilmington's New Hanover County and Winston Salem's Forsyth) and Ken Lewis, the third place finisher, won Durham.

Marshall won the three biggest counties (Charlotte's Mecklenburg County, Raleigh's Wake and Guilford's Greensboro) as well as Faytteville's Cumberland County, Asheville's Buncombe, and Gaston and Union counties that take in Charlotte suburbs.

Both candidates will be fighting for Lewis's support -- the African American attorney from Durham picked up 17 percent of the vote -- as well as the 19 percent collectively won by the other three candidates in the primary race.

Mills believes African Americans will make up 30 percent of the runoff electorate, and calls that voting bloc "a population in which she overwhelmingly defeated Cunningham." Plus, Mills writes, "almost 50% will be women over 50 years old, Marshall's base."

In Cunningham's favor is a two-to-one cash advantage through mid-April, which could give him an edge in TV ads -- a key to getting out the vote. He was on TV nearly three times as much as Marshall in the primary, according to Mills.

Public Policy Polling released a poll today showing Marshall and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) within 1 point of each other, while Burr held a 5-point lead over Cunningham.