Barack Obama's approval rating in North Carolina has fallen to 43%, with 53% of voters disapproving of him. That's the lowest PPP has found in monthly polling of the state since the weekend before last year's general election when Democrats were annihilated at the polls.
Obama's got 2 big problems: independents and a loss of support with his party base. Only 31% of independent voters think he's doing a good job to 62% who disapprove. He was at an already bad 38/56 a month ago and things have only gotten worse for him. Obama's other issue is that he's losing support from Democrats. He was at 79/16 and now he's down to 75/20. He also has only a 7% approval with Republicans but that's really par for the course at this point- we're well beyond the point where he can expect to get any support across party lines.
Despite Obama's atrocious approval numbers he remains competitive with Rick Perry and Mitt Romney in the state, at least on the surface. He's tied with Perry at 46% and holds the smallest of advantages over Romney at 45-44. Those numbers aren't as rosy for Obama as they appear to be though. Only 5% of the undecideds in the Perry match up approve of him to 83% who disapprove and on the generic legislative ballot they support Republicans by a 57-21 margin. It's a similar story in the match up with Romney. The undecideds there disapprove of Obama by a 10/81 spread and support a generic Republican 62-14. When those folks come off the fence they're going to be voting GOP which means if the election was today Obama would lose the state.
That said, it would be close. And the reason it would still be close despite Obama's poor numbers is that voters really are not big on the Republican contenders. Rick Perry's favorability spread is the 'best' of the GOP hopefuls but he still has only 34% of voters with a positive opinion of him to 43% with a negative one. The rest all have net favorabilities of -20 or worse: Michele Bachmann's at -23 (29/52), Mitt Romney's at -24 (28/52), Sarah Palin's at -31 (32/63), and Newt Gingrich is at -39 (22/61). That lack of appeal across the board for the Republicans means Obama's still going to have a decent chance at winning this state again so long as he gets his approval back up into the 46-48% range.
One thing that's particularly notable on these North Carolina numbers is Perry basically doing the same as Romney against Obama. The conventional wisdom has been that Romney is the stronger general election candidate but at least in this one swing state that's not the case. Perry's favorability with independent voters is 44/34, while Romney's is 35/50. The lack of an electability gap here could just be a southern thing but it's worth keeping an eye on.
Against the second tier of Republican candidates Obama does better, leading Bachmann 47-45, Gingrich 48-43, and Palin 49-42. Of course the chances of any of those folks being the nominee don't look very good right now.
Obama will still have a good chance at winning North Carolina if he sees a little improvement in his popularity. But his prospects look drearier today than they have at any other point in 2011.
Full results here