Barack Obama has improved his standing in North Carolina compared to a month ago and continues to appear to have at least an even money chance of taking the state again in 2012.
46% of voters in the state approve of the job Obama's doing to 49% who disapprove. This is the first time since June PPP has found fewer than half of North Carolinians unhappy with the President's performance. Over the last month he's seen slight increases in his support from conservative Democrats and independent voters, perhaps the two most important groups to his reelection prospects in the state. With Democrats overall his approval is up 3 points from 73% last month to now 76% and with independents he's risen from 40% to now 43%.
Obama is also doing better in hypothetical contests against the leading potential GOP candidates for President than he was a month ago. Mike Huckabee continues to be the one Republican he trails but the 1 point deficit at 46-45 is down from 4 points a month ago. Obama leads the rest of the top Republicans- it's 46-43 over Mitt Romney, compared to a tie a month ago, 48-42 over Newt Gingrich, compared to a 1 point lead a month ago, and 52-38 over Sarah Palin, compared to a 5 point lead a month ago.
Only Huckabee elicits a particularly positive response from Tar Heel voters. 43% have a favorable opinion of him to 34% with a negative one. The remaining Republicans are viewed pretty dimly- Romney's favorability spread is 34/39, Gingrich's is 35/47, and Palin's is 36/57.
One thing that may be contributing to Obama's improved standing in the state is the tax deal he cut with Republicans in Congress earlier this month. It's broadly popular with North Carolina voters- 51% support it to only 35% who are opposed. What may be more important for Obama though is who supports it. His party's liberal base is not real happy with it, but not so displeased that they're turning away from Obama. Meanwhile it's popular with the conservative Democrats who can go either way in Presidential elections and it also seems to have given a boost to Obama with independents who tend to want to see their elected officials work across party lines.
It's certainly no guarantee that Obama will take North Carolina again in 2012 but he has a pretty good chance at it, and those prospects are looking a little brighter than they did a month ago.
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