One of the most interesting things about our first 2012 poll in North Carolina was that it looked like Barack Obama was at least even money for winning the state again, while it looked like Governor Bev Perdue would have an uphill battle to get a second term. Democrats looking ok at the federal level but not at the state level is not the usual course of affairs in North Carolina.
11-12% of voters in the state say they'd vote for Obama against Mitt Romney, who is the ever so nominal Republican front runner right now, but that they wouldn't vote for Perdue against McCrory. This is the group Perdue most needs to get back in her corner over the next couple years if she's going to have any chance at reelection.
Here's the demographic profile of these folks:
-72% Democrats, 9% Republicans, 19% independents (compared to 49% Democrats, 35% Republicans, and 17% independents for the state as a whole)
-68% women, 32% men (compared to 54% women, 46% men for the state as a whole)
-67% white, 31% African American, 2% other (compared to 77% white, 19% African American, 4% other for the state as a whole)
-44% moderate, 31% liberal, 25% conservative (compared to 38% moderate, 20% liberal, 42% conservative for the state as a whole)
What these numbers make clear and what Perdue should keep in mind as she makes hard decisions over the next couple years is that what she primarily has is a base problem. The folks who are willing to vote for Obama but not her are disproportionately Democratic, female, black, and liberal compared to the state as a whole. She may not be able to win reelection just by getting these folks back in the fold, but getting these folks back in the fold is the first thing she needs to do to have any shot at winning a second term.
At some point Perdue does need to worry about folks on the margins of the usual Democratic coalition- conservative white Democrats, rural voters who might be uncomfortable with a city slicker McCrory, moderate to conservative leaning independents, and even the few moderate Republicans she might be able to pick off. But the votes she can get from those groups are the difference between getting 48-49% and 51-52%. Right now she's not even anywhere near that 48-49% and she needs to get there first and then hope she can pick up the rest of the votes she needs by running a strong campaign.
And just as an aside while 11-12% of voters say they'd vote for Obama over Romney not but Perdue over McCrory, only 3-4% say they'd vote for Perdue over McCrory but not Obama over Romney.