Bev Perdue may have had a bad news week after her comments about suspending Congressional elections, but she doesn't appear to be suffering much political damage from it. We find Perdue trailing Pat McCrory this month by a 47-42 margin, only 1 point worse than the 45-41 deficit she faced last month. This is the second closest Perdue's been to McCrory in our monthly polling all year, behind only September.
Perdue's approval rating has slipped some, from 40/44 last month to now 37/51. 37% actually matches the second best approval we've found for her all year though- what the decline shows is that Perdue was not able to hang on to the bounce she got after voters gave her strong marks for her handling of Hurricane Irene. But her current numbers are in line with where they've been for most of the year and don't suggest that she was particularly hurt by the fall out from her comments last week.
Although it's good news for Perdue that her position hasn't deteriorated, she's obviously still not in great shape. Her biggest problem continues to be a lack of support from Democrats- her approval within her own party is just 59/26, and she's losing 21% of the Democratic vote to McCrory. She also trails McCrory 48-40 with independents but as a Democrat in North Carolina you can lose independents by that margin and win overall- but not if you're shedding more than 20% of the Democratic vote. That's where Perdue's going to need to improve to win reelection.
One thing Perdue doesn't need to worry about at this point is losing a primary. She would lead State Representative Bill Faison, who made some noises about a challenge last month before walking back on them, by a 62-18 margin in a head to head with primary voters. Perdue doesn't appear to be particularly vulnerable with any individual segment of the Democratic electorate either- she gets 62% with 'very liberal' voters, 72% with 'somewhat liberal' ones, 61% with moderates, 59% with women, 67% with men, 58% with whites, 68% with blacks, 54% with young voters, and 68% with seniors. There aren't any major party constituencies pining for an alternative to Perdue.
Some people seem to think that if Perdue would just not run for a second term that Democrats would be able to easily maintain the Governor's office- not the case. Two of the most likely alternative Democratic nominees- Faison and Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton- trail McCrory by much wider margins than Perdue. Faison would start down 45-30 and Dalton at a 46-32 deficit. Attorney General Roy Cooper and former UNC President Erskine Bowles would do a little better. Cooper trails McCrory by a 3 point margin at 42-39 and Bowles fights to a tie at 42%. But those folks really aren't doing that much better than Perdue given that they don't have the weight of 3 years governing the state during a tough economy on their backs.
Perdue's not popular and that's definitely a part of why she starts out at a disadvantage for reelection. But between Pat McCrory's strength as a candidate and the difficult political climate for Democrats due to Barack Obama's unpopularity, it's going to be very hard for any Dem to hold the Governor's office next year- dumping Perdue is not some sort of silver bullet solution to the party's problems.
Full results here