The race for Governor of North Carolina has tightened up a good deal over the last three months with Pat McCrory now leading Walter Dalton by only 6 points, 46-40. When PPP first polled that match up, in late January, McCrory's advantage was 15 points at 50-35.
Dalton has both increased his name recognition and become better liked by North Carolinians over the course of his primary campaign. 54% of voters are familiar with him, compared to 42% in January. And his net favorability is +2 at 28/26, up a net 10 points from -8 at 17/25 when he first launched his campaign.
McCrory continues to be the most popular politician in the state with a +13 (41/28) favorability rating. He is very strong with independents, leading Dalton 52-29. He's also benefiting from a more unified party, with 84% of Republicans behind him compared to only 68% of Democrats who are backing Dalton.
Although I certainly think McCrory remains the favorite there's reason to believe this will end up being a pretty closely contested race. The 13% of voters who are undecided for Governor support Barack Obama 57-28 for President over Mitt Romney. If those folks ended up supporting the same party for President as for Governor, McCrory's lead would only be 51-49. Dalton is under performing right now with key Democratic constituencies like African Americans and young voters but history suggests those people will end up breaking in his direction and if they do it will be a very close race. He has more room for growth than McCrory does.
-The contest for Lieutenant Governor is very close with Linda Coleman holding small leads of 41-40 over Dan Forest and 42-38 over Tony Gurley. That's good news for Democrats since it means the LG race isn't completely tracking with the Gubernatorial contest where they face an up hill battle.
-Incumbents lead by modest margins in both of the Council of State races where the fall match up has been set. Democrat Janet Cowell leads opponent Steve Royal 41-37 in her reelection bid for State Treasurer. And Republican Steve Troxler is up 42-38 on Democrat Walter Smith as he seeks a third term as Agriculture Commissioner.
Full results here