Civitas has some interesting new numbers out looking at the favorability of Richard Burr and potential opponents Roy Cooper and Heath Shuler.
They find that Burr's favorability is 37/10, Cooper's is 32/2, and Shuler's is 17/2.
Those may seem like awfully low levels of unfavorability for the trio. The reason is that Civitas didn't provide party labels when asking voters what they think of the candidates. We do identify the candidates with their party, and it would appear that the higher levels of unfavorability we found for each of these candidates in our most recent polls (30% for Burr, 21% for Shuler, 23% for Cooper) may have been more a reaction to party labels than to the candidates themselves.
A couple interesting things that pop out in the crosstabs:
-Cooper's 36% favorability rating with Republican's is higher than his 32% favorability rating with Democrats! That's a pretty remarkable finding. There's no doubt Cooper is very well respected across party lines. The question is whether he can convince enough Republicans to vote for the person instead of the party. On our poll last month 31% of Republicans approved of Cooper's job performance, much better than the 16% of Democrats who approved of Burr's performance. But Burr still led Cooper 52-35 among Republicans who held a positive opinion of Cooper.
-Shuler's net favorability of +40 in the Mountains (46/6) is the best any of the three candidates have in any region of the state.
Bottom line: this poll gives some confirmation of what we've been telling you since the summer. Burr has very low name recognition for someone who's been in statewide office for the last four years, to the extent that his incumbency may not be worth as much as it usually is for a sitting Senator. Now that Mel Martinez, George Voinovich, and Kit Bond have all announced they won't run for reelection I have no doubt Burr is the most endangered incumbent in the country for 2010.