45% of voters in the state approve of Obama with 50% disapproving, numbers pretty much in line with where he's been for the last 3 months. Obama's big issue continues to be with independents, only 38% of whom think he's doing a good job to 56% who give him poor marks. He's been consistently right around the 80% mark with Democrats (78/16 this month) and favor from Republicans is still virtually nonexistent (6/91).
Despite his weak approval numbers Obama trails only one Republican for reelection in the state, Mitt Romney, and even then it's just a 1 point margin at 46-45. That represents a simple flip from last month's poll when Obama led Romney 46-45. We've been polling these guys head to head every month for a year now and their head to head has continuously been in the margin of error.
Each candidate has a couple of things going for him in this match up. Romney's up 49-34 with independents and gets 16% of the Democratic vote, more than any of the other candidates. Obama's benefiting from in migration to the state. 79% of North Carolinians consider themselves to be Southerners. They go for Romney 48-44. But with the 21% of voters who don't identify with that label, Obama's up 50-43. The folks moving into North Carolina are a big part of why the state's become more competitive at the Presidential level. The other key thing for Obama is that he's showing little slippage with the two key groups that drove his victory in the state in 2008: he's up 89-8 with African Americans and 64-28 with voters under 30.
Against the non-Romney potential Republican candidates Obama hold leads ranging from 3-8 points. It's impossible to say what impact the last three days will have long term on Herman Cain's candidacy but he was the only other GOP hopeful to really come close to Obama on this poll, trailing 47-44. Obama has pretty healthy leads right now against the rest of the Republicans- it's 7 points over Newt Gingrich at 50-43, and 8 points over Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Rick Perry at 50-42, 48-40, and 50-42 respectively. It's probably good news for GOP hopes of beating Obama that no one in that last quartet except for Gingrich is looking like a particularly strong candidate for the nomination right now.
Month after month after month we find this same basic picture of North Carolina being up for grabs in 2012. It's not exactly breaking news that it's now a swing state. What's more significant though is where on the spectrum of swing states North Carolina finds itself now. Obama's approval numbers in North Carolina now are better than they are in places like Wisconsin, Ohio, Nevada, and Iowa, all states he won by wider margins than NC in 2008.
North Carolina provided the last electoral votes Obama won last time around- it was the difference between winning with 350 electoral votes and 365- icing on the cake but functionally insignificant. Next year though it's increasingly looking like it could be a part of Obama's path to 270 electoral votes because he's holding up so much better in states with large black populations than in ones without them. So yes, North Carolina will be a swing state again, but its importance to the outcome in 2012 will be considerably enhanced from what it was in 2008.
Full results here