There is probably no politician in the country whose fate better exemplifies the shift in the national political climate over the last four months than Richard Burr.
His approval this month comes in at a very mediocre 36% with an almost equal 35% disapproving of his work in the Senate. In June his approval spread was a nearly identical 34/35.
Despite there being no change in Burr's popularity his prospects for reelection have increased significantly. He now leads a generic Democratic candidate 45-34. He trailed 41-38 on that same June poll. So he's seen a 14 point improvement on that front over the last four months despite a stagnant approval rating.
The independents on this poll provide a fascinating prism into the current political landscape. By a 39/36 margin they disapprove of the job Burr is doing. But they then turn around and give him a 44-24 lead against a generic Democratic candidate. The pretty clear message when you see numbers like that is 'we don't like you, but we like the alternative even less.'
One number that is particularly good news for Burr on this poll is a 56-28 lead among senior citizens. They're unhappy with the Democrats on health care and tend to make up a larger portion of the electorate in midterm elections than they do in Presidential years.
In head to heads against some specific potential Democratic opponents Burr leads Bob Etheridge 44-33, Elaine Marshall 44-32, Dennis Wicker and Kenneth Lewis 44-30, Kevin Foy 45-29, and Cal Cunningham 46-27. Those leads for Burr are artificially high because there are considerably more undecided Democrats than Republicans in each of them, owing to none of the Democratic hopefuls being particularly well known statewide.
Burr's lack of personal popularity is still a problem for him- if one of the Democratic candidates mounts an unusually strong campaign or if the national political climate shifts back away from the Republicans he'll look just as vulnerable as he did earlier in the year. But for now he's in a much better position than he was for the first half of 2009.
Full results here