Around the middle of last year Republicans in North Carolina were unhappy with their choices for President. They didn't know a lot of the candidates, and the candidates they did know they weren't particularly enthralled with.
Then Fred Thompson started talking about entering the race. Folks didn't really know him either. But they knew at least it was a new face in the race and that they didn't like the folks who were already in.
So he started leading our polls even before he entered the race, and for two months after he finally joined in September he continued to lead them.
But a funny thing happened. The more folks got to know Thompson, the less they thought he'd be a good President. And as time went on they got to know Mike Huckabee a lot better, and decided that they actually liked him a lot more than they liked Thompson. And now in January Thompson is fourth in the state while Huckabee, who wasn't even in the picture three months ago, is in the lead.
The Republican Governors race is basically where the Presidential race was eight months ago. The candidates haven't been capturing the electorate's attention. Now Pat McCrory is the new guy in the race and a lot of people getting polled are thinking that he must be better than the folks already running. That's showing in the two polls over the last week by us and SurveyUSA that have McCrory in the lead.
The voters still don't really know McCrory though. It's entirely possible that over the next four months GOP voters will decide they don't think he's that great either. And maybe as they get to know Bob Orr or Fred Smith or Bill Graham better in the ensuing weeks, they'll decide like they did with Huckabee that they really do like one of them.
McCrory's definitely the front runner now though, and it'll be interesting to see if he can keep it up through the primary, or if he's the next Fred Thompson.