PPP's newest North Carolina poll finds Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama 48-46. It's a small lead but still significant in that it's the first time we've found Romney ahead in our monthly polling of the state since October.
Romney's gained 7 points on Obama in North Carolina since April, when the President led by a 49-44 margin. Since then Romney's erased what was a 51-38 lead for Obama with independents and taken a 42-41 lead with that voting group. He's also increased his share of the Democratic vote from 15% to 20%, suggesting he's convincing some more conservative voters within the party to cross over.
Voters in the state have significantly warmed up to Romney in the couple of months since he sewed up the Republican nomination. 41% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 46% with a negative one. Those numbers still aren't great but they represent a 24 point improvement on the margin from April when Romney was at a -29 spread (29/58).
One caveat with Romney's lead on this poll is that it finds Obama winning the black vote by only a 76/20 margin. That seems like an unrealistically low share of African American voters for Obama. The bottom line on this poll is the same as pretty much every one we've done in the state over the last 18 months- North Carolina is one of the most closely contested toss up states in the country, it could go either way, and the way the campaigns are spending here backs up that assessment.
Full results here