Mitt Romney has taken the lead over President Barack Obama in the pivotal swing state of North Carolina, according to a new poll released Tuesday.
The latest survey from Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows Romney edging the president among North Carolina voters, 48 percent to 46 percent. While the lead is within the poll’s 3.4 percent margin of error, it represents the first time since October that Romney has topped the president in PPP’s monthly polling of the Tar Heel State.
Romney continues to see gains in his personal favorability rating among North Carolinians. In the statewide survey, 41 percent say they view the former Massachusetts governor favorably — up from a 37 percent favorability rating in May and a paltry 29 percent favorability rating in April. Compounding matters for the president: His approval rating in North Carolina is going the other way.
From PPP’s analysis:
The Tar Heel State’s swing towards Romney comes as the almost certain Republican nominee has been solidified as the party’s best hope to defeat Obama in the general election. Romney has seen his favorability rating increase 12 points since main primary competitor Rick Santorum left the presidential race in April. Romney’s favorability rating in the state is now at 41%, up from 37% in May and 29% in April. Romney’s favorability rating with state Republicans is up to 71%, an increase of 2 points from May and 19 points from April.
Obama’s popularity, on the other hand, is on the decline. The president’s approval rating is down 1 point from May to 47%. The decline in the president’s approval rating can mostly be attributed to disapproval from within his own party. 76% of Democrats approve of the president’s performance, down from 80% in May. Even more troubling, 20% of Democrats support Romney in a head-to-head matchup with Obama.
The poll underscores the political perils for Obama in North Carolina. After becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry North Carolina since Jimmy Carter in 1976, Obama and the Democrats set their sights on replicating their success there, including by selecting Charlotte to host the party’s 2012 convention.
But on top of the state’s reddening electorate — Republicans in the Legislature drew a new congressional redistricting map that overwhelmingly favors Republicans — the state Democratic Party has been in disarray, punctuated by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue’s decision not to seek re-election. Walter Dalton, the former Republican mayor of Charlotte, is now a strong favorite to succeed Perdue. Moreover, the underwhelming jobs report earlier this month brought renewed uncertainty to the president’s re-election prospects.
“North Carolina remains one of the most closely contested swing states in the country,”
writes Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “But there has been a modest shift toward Mitt Romney since he wrapped up the Republican nomination.”
The TPM Poll Average illustrates Romney’s upward trajectory in North Carolina since early May, approximately when he cemented himself as the Republican Party’s nominee.
Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.