PPP's newest North Carolina poll finds Mitt Romney taking a small lead in the state, 49-47. The candidates were tied at 48 two weeks ago. This now makes 26 out of 27 times polling the race in North Carolina that PPP has found Obama and Romney within three points of each other.
Romney's seen the same kind of improvement in his image with North Carolina voters that we've found for him in most places since last week's debate. 49% of voters now have a favorable opinion of him to 46% with an unfavorable one, reversing what was a 46/49 spread on our last poll. Obama's approval numbers have barely changed- 48% of voters approve of him and 50% disapprove, compared to 48/49 last time. Romney's gains in North Carolina have more to do with him becoming more appealing than Obama faltering.
Romney's ahead for two key reasons: he's up 63/33 with white voters and he has a 54/40 advantage with independents. A 30 point win among white voters is basically the cut line for whether Romney can take the state back or not- we've generally found him slightly below that this year, but at least for now he's there. The large registration advantage Democrats have in North Carolina means that for Romney to take the state he not only needs to win independents, but needs to win them by a double digit margin. He's meeting the mark on that front now as well.
North Carolinians think by a 46/42 margin that Joe Biden was the winner of the Vice Presidential debate on Thursday. In spite of that they have a higher opinion of Paul Ryan (48/45 favorability) than they do of Biden (47/47). We found a similar thing to that in Florida- there seems to be a consensus that Biden was the winner, but it's also not doing much to move the needle.
North Carolina continues to look like a very closely contested state but as is the case most everywhere things are moving in Romney's direction. Obama needs a strong performance Tuesday night to reverse the current trend.
Full results here