McCrory leads Cooper by just 2

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest look at the race for Governor in North Carolina finds it the closest it’s been in a while- Pat McCrory leads with 43% to 41% for Roy Cooper. McCrory had led by 5-7 points on the previous two surveys. Cooper’s getting a little bit more support from Republicans and independents than he had the last two polls, which could be a real thing and could just be statistical noise. 

McCrory’s approval numbers remain remarkably stable, with slightly more voters disapproving (44%) than approving (40%) of his performance. In the three polls we’ve conducted since the conclusion of the 2014 election McCrory’s approval has come down at 41/46, 41/45, and now this 40/44 mark. Not much is happening to move voters perceptions of him. Although Cooper only has 55% name recognition, he has generally favorable numbers among those familiar with him as 34% rate him positively to 21% with a negative opinion. McCrory would lead the other potential Democratic candidate, Ken Spaulding, by a 44/35 spread.

Richard Burr’s situation remains stable- an approval rating in the low 30s danger zone, but leads of 6-12 points against his most mentioned potential Democratic opponents who are either unknown or unpopular. Burr has a 32% approval, with 37% of voters disapproving of him. He had come in at 31/36 and 34/35 on our previous two surveys, showing the same kind of relative poll to poll stability that McCrory has.

Burr leads Treasurer Janet Cowell 44/38, former Senator Kay Hagan 50/43, former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx 45/36, and Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines 45/33. For most of the potential hopefuls a lot of their deficit is attributable simply to the fact that they’re not very well known. Foxx has 40% name recognition, Cowell 30% name recognition, and Joines 22% name recognition. Being well known isn’t a problem for Hagan- 92% of voters have an opinion about her- but there’s still no sign of the high negatives all of last year’s attack ads created for her wearing off. 54% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of her to only 38% with a positive one, exactly where we found her last month.

Burr is theoretically vulnerable- his approval numbers are low and so far Hillary Clinton is polling pretty well in the state. But it may end up being that someone who doesn’t have much to lose- a legislator sick of being in the minority or someone currently out of elected office- ends up being the one to actually take the plunge.

In our first look at next year’s contest for Lieutenant Governor, Republican incumbent Dan Forest leads Democratic challenger Linda Coleman 40/35, a slightly greater margin than he won by when the pair first faced off in 2015.

Full results here

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