First, as pollster Zac McCrary pointed out, just under half the district is new territory for Kissell, and his name identification reflects that -- it stands at just 64 percent, low for an incumbent. The poll also showed Kissell pulling about 70 percent support from minorities, with the other 30 percent mostly undecided. (The district is just over one-fifth African-American.) With President Obama on the ballot and his campaign targeting the state with ads and his vaunted turnout operation, McCreary said Kissell could lift his minority support up near 90 percent as more people get to know him.
"That's four to five additional points you can just tack on," McCreary said, which would move Kissell from a plurality to a majority. "It shows his expansion potential."
As Hudson mentioned, though, Kissell's numbers come before Republicans have really gone after him and his record, as well as the Democratic Party in general. The Republican presidential nominee and various outside groups are sure to blanket North Carolina with ads attacking the Democratic brand, and whoever runs against Kissell is unlikely to lack resources -- the Club for Growth endorsed another potential challenger, Iredell County Commissioner Scott Keadle, this week.
But for a Democratic incumbent plopped in a district 10 points more Republican than before, with hundreds of thousands of new constituents to meet, Kissell's poll shows him in reasonable shape -- which is why his campaign told everyone about it.
The Anzalone-Liszt poll was conducted March 15-20, surveying 500 likely votes in North Carolina's 8th District, for a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points.