PPP's first poll of the 2012 Governor's race in North Carolina finds Pat McCrory well ahead of Bev Perdue in a hypothetical rematch of their 2008 contest, 49-37. Perdue also trails NC GOP chair Tom Fetzer in a possible contest, although only by a 42-40 margin.
Part of the reason for Perdue's dicey early standing is her continued poor approval ratings. Only 33% of voters in the state approve of the job she's doing while 49% disapprove. But the other part is that Pat McCrory is a pretty well liked politician. Although a lot of folks have already forgotten who he is- 45% of voters in the state have no opinion of him- those who do remember him from 2 years ago generally look upon him fondly. 34% have a favorable view of him to only 20% with a negative one. Republicans (49/11 spread) and independents (34/18) are pretty overwhelmingly positive toward him and even with Democrats there are almost as many- 24%- with a positive opinion of him as there are- 27% with a negative one.
McCrory leads Perdue 58-27 with independents. By comparison PPP's final 2008 poll found him up just 7 points on Perdue with them. McCrory is also getting 25% of Democrats, compared to 17% we found him with on our final 2008 poll. And McCrory also does a good job of keeping Republicans in line- Perdue gets only 5% of the GOP vote at this point in time, compared to 10% she was receiving at the end of the last election.
There's not a lot of doubt that McCrory would defeat Perdue if the election was held today. But of course it's not. Earlier this month the Governor of Arizona, who had trailed by a good deal in polling throughout much of 2009, and the Governor of Illinois, who trailed by a good deal in polling throughout pretty much all of 2010, were both reelected. Perdue has a lot of work to do with Democrats and independents between now and November of 2012, but it's not impossible for someone in her current position to win reelection.
The most interesting thing about Fetzer's numbers might be that as many press conferences as he held this year, 70% of voters across the state don't know who he is. And when you get outside the Triangle that number rises closer to 80%. Democrats dislike Fetzer more strongly (8/27) than Republicans like him (16/9). Independents have a dim view of Fetzer as well at 9/16. Given McCrory's strength Fetzer's electoral prospects in 2012 might look brighter in a race for Lieutenant Governor than the big office.
Full results here