Civitas’ recent poll of NC House District 2 shows a dead heat in Dare County between Democrat State Representative Tim Spear and his challenger, Republican Bob Steinburg.  Spear is up by 2 percentage points, 43/41, well within the poll’s margin of error.  This is welcome news for Steinburg as Dare County comprises over half the voting population of the four county district.  Add in the fact that neither candidate is very well known here and what you have is a certified toss-up.

For a two term State Representative, Tim Spear has a surprisingly low favorability rating in Dare County.  23% of voters view him favorably while 41% have a neutral opinion.   In addition, more than a quarter of those polled have no opinion whatsoever of their State Representative.  This means that after four years, Spear has yet to make an impression on the local electorate.

Steinburg, a political newcomer, is not well known in Dare County and that is reflected in his single digit favorability rating here.  However, 85% of those polled in Dare have no opinion or a neutral opinion of Steinburg.  This presents a real opportunity for the challenger.  With no voting record, Steinburg has a clean canvas on which to paint his own portrait.

Spear, on the other hand, has to account for his record.  That record includes a $2 Billion tax hike, a highly unpopular plastic bag ban and a struggling local economy that has had no help from Raleigh.  Representing the political playground of Marc Basnight, there’s little that Tim Spear can point to in Dare County as his own achievement.  Rather than basking in the limelight of Basnight, Spear is left in the shadows of his mentor.

Adding to all this is the very distinct character of Dare County.  Those who were born and raised here are becoming fewer and fewer while transplants from Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey are on the rise.  This makes for an unpredictable electorate; one that does not rely so much on word of mouth in the community but rather on new media for its news and information.  Having the right name or patron is no longer an instant pass into political circles.  As these candidates are about to find out, the votes in Dare County are going to have to be earned.

Click here to see the poll crosstabs.