Stability is the story when it comes to Richard Burr's poll numbers. For 13 months in a row now his approval in our polling has fallen somewhere between 35 and 40%. He's right at 35% right now, with 37% of voters in the state disapproving of his job performance.
Burr's approval with Republicans is a 64/12 spread, with that small disapproval number again providing confirmation he has nothing to worry about despite a crowded primary field. With Democrats he sees a 12/56 spread, an indication of limited crossover support. And with independents he's at 37/35, pretty solid standing in a time when those voters tend to be unhappy with everyone.
Burr continues to lead all of his Democratic opponents. It's a 41-36 advantage over Elaine Marshall and 43-32 over both Cal Cunningham and Kenneth Lewis. Burr leads by anywhere from 16-20 points with independents against each of the Democrats. He also has his party's vote pretty much locked up at 83-85% support while many Democratic voters remain undecided, with only 59-64% of them committed to their candidates at this point in time.
Burr's early leads are similar to what Elizabeth Dole had against Kay Hagan two years ago. Hagan polled well behind initially because she was not well known, and the Democratic candidates this year are no different. 71% of voters have no opinion about Elaine Marshall, 85% are ambivalent toward Kenneth Lewis, and Cal Cunningham is an unknown to 86%.
Because the candidates are pretty obscure at this point the best measure of Burr's standing right now may be how he fares against a generic Democratic candidate. He leads 41-39 there, indicating that this could be a highly competitive race once the Democrats have a nominee who has built up some name recognition.
The first poll we do after the primary will be telling. Two years ago Hagan took about ten points off Dole's lead from February to May as she became better known over the course of her primary campaign. If the eventual Democratic nominee sees a similar gain this time we probably have another tossup on our hands.
Full results here