Last month Richard Burr's approval rating was 35%. This month it's 36%. Despite that lack of change in voter perceptions of Burr his lead when tested against a generic Democrat has increased from one point to nine over the last five weeks. It's another reminder that Burr's fate is tied up in factors larger than him. When Barack Obama's approval goes down, Burr's chances of being reelected go up. And if the Obama trend ever reverses itself the Burr one likely will as well.
Burr has the approval of 63% of Republicans, 36% of independents, and 16% of Democrats. To get an idea of just how little perceptions of Burr himself have shifted, consider that in January of 2009 his approval was 33%, breaking down at 54% with Republicans, 34% with independents, and 18% with Democrats. So other than a slight shoring up of his support within his own party Burr's numbers are basically unchanged even as he's tried to increase his visibility in preparation for seeking reelection.
Burr leads a generic Democratic candidate 45-36. Tested against his actual Democratic opponents this month he leads Elaine Marshall 44-37, Cal Cunningham 45-36, and Kenneth Lewis 46-34.
The Democratic candidates continue to sport low name recognition, no surprise in what is at this point an insiders campaign with no money being spent on media. 70% of voters have no opinion of Marshall, 83% don't of Lewis, and 85% say the same of Cunningham. The Democratic field is actually faring well compared to Kay Hagan, who trailed Elizabeth Dole 48-35 at this point in January of 2008. Their numbers relative to Burr will likely improve as they become better known- our first poll after Hagan's successful primary campaign found her deficit narrowing 48-43 before she went on to victory in the fall.
Nevertheless the political climate in 2010 is fundamentally different than it was in 2008 and that is to Burr's considerable advantage.
Full results here