Civitas took a gander at the Roy Cooper-Richard Burr contest and found very similar results to what we got in December. We had Cooper up 39-34 while they have him up 41-38.
There are some pretty bad signs for Burr within the Civitas numbers. For instance 21% of Democrats are undecided in the hypothetical contest while only 14% of Republicans are. Most of those folks would end up supporting Cooper.
Democrats have a large advantage in North Carolina when it comes to both party registration and identification. That means for a Republican to win statewide he needs to get considerably more crossover support than his opponent and win the independents. But in this poll Cooper has a narrow advantage with unaffiliated voters and the two get almost equal levels of crossover support with 13% of Democrats going for Burr and 10% of Republicans supporting Cooper.
Cooper should get in the race. He will never have this clear an opportunity to move up. He could wait to run for Governor in 2016 but it's likely there would be a much more contentious path to the Democratic nomination. The Senate nod, on the other hand, appears to be his for the taking. And Burr's numbers are so weak there's no doubt he's about as beatable an incumbent as you're ever going to find who has no serious ethics issues.
Besides, if Cooper goes up to Washington and hates it he could still run for Governor in 2016 and that would likely be a field clearer on the Democratic side after a term in the Senate. Jon Corzine made that transition four years ago without even finishing his six years.
There's no doubt a Cooper candidacy is the best thing that could happen for the Democrats...and politically I don't think there's a lot of doubt it's the best thing for Cooper. Can't speak for family considerations, etc.