North Carolina Democrats have generally kept control of the Legislature even in bad years for the party nationally because voters in the state separate out how they feel about the Democrats in Washington from the Democrats in the state. Early signs this year though are that ticket splitting may be out the door, and animosity toward Barack Obama could hand Republicans control of the General Assembly.
Our newest statewide survey finds 46% of North Carolinians approving of President Obama's performance and 50% disapproving. The big concern for Democrats at the state level is that voters unhappy with Obama are planning to vote Republicans for the Legislature this fall by a margin of 80-6. If you don't like Obama you're pretty universally planning to vote for the GOP this fall and in a state where a majority of voters are displeased with what the President's doing that adds up to a 45-42 Republican advantage on the generic legislative ballot.
Perhaps most telling is that among Democrats who disapprove of Obama, largely rural whites in either the Mountains or the eastern part of the state, Republicans have a 51-30 generic ballot advantage.
Democrats are going to be in big trouble this year if voters can't separate their feelings about Barack Obama from their legislative votes, but it's still a little early for Republicans to be picking out their new offices. Democratic candidates have historically had better funded, better run campaigns than Republicans in the state so the folks the party actually has on the ballot may outrun their 'generic' numbers. And of course there's still plenty of time for the landscape to change. But a diversion from ticket splitting for conservative Democrats could end up being a major factor in this year's election.