The race for Governor in North Carolina has gotten a little closer since PPP's last poll, although Pat McCrory still holds a solid early lead. McCrory is up 10 points on Bob Etheridge at 46-36 and 11 points on Walter Dalton at 46-35. In late January McCrory led both of the Democratic hopefuls by 15 points at 50-35.
Part of McCrory's early lead is based on superior name recognition. 64% of voters are familiar with him compared to only 40% for Etheridge and 32% for Dalton. But McCrory is popular beyond his simply being better known. 39% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 25% with a negative one. Republicans familiar with him pretty universally have a positive view (63/6), he has very good numbers with independents (41/23), and even has a higher than normal share of Democrats (20%) who rate him positively. McCrory's numbers are better than any other major politician in the state.
One way to account for a candidate having an early name recognition advantage is to look at a generic ballot question. On that Republicans still have the 46-42 advantage in North Carolina. That's because of two major factors: independents want a GOP Governor by a 48-30 margin, and 14% of Democrats say they plan to vote Republican this fall while only 4% of Republicans are planning to cross over and vote Democratic.
One issue that's sparked some heat in the early stages of the race is whether candidates for Governor should release their tax returns. 71% of voters think that they should, compared to only 15% who think it isn't necessary. This is one issue where there's a bipartisan consensus- 75% of independents, 74% of Democrats, and 64% of Republicans think candidates should release their tax returns.
McCrory has a 48-33 lead over Bruce Blackmon and a 49-29 advantage over Gardenia Henley. Gary Dunn and Bill Faison weren't included in general election match ups because they didn't finish in the top 4 on PPP's most recent Democratic primary poll.
Full results here