Richard Burr's approval rating in PPP's newest survey continues to lag in the mid-30s. 36% of voters like the job he's doing with 32% disapproving and 32% ambivalent.
By comparison Elizabeth Dole's approval was 45% at the same point in the election cycle two years ago.
One reason for Burr's difficulties is a relatively weak standing even within his own party. Just 59% of Republicans approve of the job he's doing. Next year this race will be the only thing really drawing people out to the polls in North Carolina, and if GOP voters aren't enthusiastic about Burr they will be much more inclined to just stay at home. That could certainly play to the Democrats' advantage if they are able to convince Roy Cooper or some equally popular candidate to get in the race.
PPP's first look at how Burr does against recently announced opponent Kenneth Lewis finds the incumbent holding a 45-31 lead. It should be noted that the first time we tested Kay Hagan against Elizabeth Dole she trailed 43-27. At this point these numbers are little more than a generic ballot.
Just for fun we also tested UNC basketball coach Roy Williams against Burr. Although Williams is immensely popular- 61% of people in the state have a favorable opinion of him with only 9% having a negative one- he trails Burr 46-34. That's a weaker showing than Dean Smith had two years when we looked at him against Dole. The retired UNC legend was within six points at 41-35. The divergent standings of Williams and Smith as possible political candidates is likely attributable to Smith being more overtly political throughout his career, although Williams did make it public that he voted for Barack Obama last year.
This Democrat and UNC alum thinks we need Roy coaching the Tar Heels a lot more than we need another Democratic Senator, and I'm sure some of that plays into his relatively weak standing against Burr as well. Much more on how North Carolinians view Coach Williams here.
Full results from the poll