I must admit I get a little bored with our monthly North Carolina Senate poll because it's the same month after month after month. Richard Burr's approval rating is always cruddy and he always hold leads of around 10 points over his Democratic opponents who have no name recognition.
We'll have those numbers- same old story- tomorrow. But I delved a little deeper this month and discovered some interesting things under the toplines of the polls that I hadn't noticed before:
1) Most of the voters with no opinion about Burr are Democrats, which could mean that his approval numbers are even worse than they look. This month Burr's approval came down as a 35/35 split. Among those ambivalent toward him 50% are Democrats and just 32% are Republicans. The group voted for Barack Obama by a 51-43 margin in 2008. So once the DSCC helps those voters to get to know Burr a little better his disapproval could see a hike.
2) Among voters who actually have an opinion of Cal Cunningham or Elaine Marshall- whether it's positive or not- they lead Burr. Cunningham is up 46-44 and Marshall is up 49-40. There's a caveat with those numbers- people with an opinion of Cunningham voted Obama 49-47 and folks with ones of Marshall supported the President 52-45. So these people are a little more Democratic than the population at large- but not overwhelmingly so. The numbers are an indication that this race could get a whole lot closer once the eventual nominee starts catching up in name recognition.
I still have a hard time seeing Democrats picking up any Senate seats this year but contrary to the conventional wisdom North Carolina may actually be a better pick up opportunity than some of the open seats. Running a Washington outsider against a Senate incumbent may be the formula that lets Dems pull off some upsets in this political climate.