Richard Burr's status this month is the same as it's been ever since Roy Cooper decided not to challenge him- his numbers are mediocre but he leads a bevy of little known potential challengers by double digit margins.
Burr's approval this month comes in at 40% with 31% of voters disapproving of him. He has the support of 63% of Republicans, 46% of independents, and 22% of Democrats.
The +9 spread in Burr's approval is the same as Elizabeth Dole's in November of 2007. 10% more voters have no opinion of Burr than was the case for Dole at this point in the cycle.
Tested against a generic Democratic candidate Burr leads 44-40, thanks largely to a 51-30 advantage with independent voters.
Matched against half a dozen specific potential Democratic opponents he holds leads ranging from 10 to 13 points. Bob Etheridge continues to poll the strongest of the Democrats, albeit by a narrow margin, trailing 45-35. Elaine Marshall is next best at 45-34, followed by Dennis Wicker at 45-33 and Kevin Foy at 44-32, then Kenneth Lewis at 45-32 and the likely not running Cal Cunningham at 44-31.
The small amount of variation in the performance of the Democratic candidates speaks to how little known any of them are across the state. Names like Etheridge, Marshall, and Wicker may be well known in political circles but ask most voters about any of them and you'd likely get a blank stare. Kay Hagan trailed Dole 46-33 in November of 2007.
The bottom line on the Senate race is this: if 2010 ends up being a big year for Republicans nationally it's unlikely any of the possible Democratic candidates are going to be strong enough to defeat him. If the economy really gets turned around and it winds up being a good year for Democrats, Burr is probably not strong enough to get reelected. And if it's just sort of an average year with neither party having a strong advantage this is likely to be one of the most closely contested races in the country. Yes, it's taken Democrats a long time to get a candidate, but Burr has the weakest numbers of any Republican in the country running for reelection in 2010 so even if it's taking a while the party will definitely make a strong effort in North Carolina.
Full results here