North Carolina and New Jersey are pretty different states but when it comes to the Republican Presidential race their stories are quite similar- Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann are basically tied for the lead.
In New Jersey Romney's at 22% with Bachmann at 21%, Ron Paul at 11%, Rick Perry at 10%, Herman Cain at 8%, Newt Gingrich at 7%, Tim Pawlenty at 5%, and Jon Huntsman at 3%.
Bachmann's strength in New Jersey is notable because it has one of the most moderate Republican electorates you will find in any state. There are more voters- 27%- who identify as moderates than there are who label themselves 'very conservative'- 23%. This is the only state where we've found that to be the case and you would expect it to be a drag on her numbers. But she leads Romney 26-18 with those far right voters and also has a 21-19 advantage with ones who are just 'somewhat conservative.' That allows her to offset the 34-16 deficit she faces with moderates.
If by some chance he were to change his mind about running for President Chris Christie would be the top choice of Republicans in the state at 38% to 13% for Romney and 12% for Bachmann. And if Sarah Palin ends up jumping in the race she would be in third place at 16% behind Romney's 21% and Bachmann's 18%. Perry and Paul would tie for 4th at 10% each. The fact that Romney's lead would be wider with Palin in than without her speaks again to the fact that she and Bachmann would likely pull from the same pool of voters and ease Romney's path to the nomination.
In North Carolina the numbers are very similar. There Romney leads Bachmann 23-22 with Rick Perry debuting at 14% and Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich at 9%, Ron Paul at 6%, Tim Pawlenty at 5%, and Jon Huntsman at 2% rounding out the field.
North Carolina's a rare state where Bachmann actually edges out Romney with centrist voters, 23-21. But his 12 point lead with voters just right of center at 30-18 outweighs her 9 point advantage with far right voters at 26-17.
If you add Palin to the equation in North Carolina she finished 4th at 12% behind Romney at 18%, Bachmann at 17%, and Perry at 12%.
Taken together with our national poll last week and other polling we've released this month these numbers are a further indication that Romney and Bachmann have become co-front runners. That could prove to be a pretty short lived position for Bachmann though if Perry formally enters the race and starts eating into her support from conservatives. Perry's double digit standing on both of these polls before he's even entered the race is pretty impressive, especially as Pawlenty and Huntsman continue to languish in the 2-5% range.
And for what it's worth Tom Kean Jr. is who New Jersey Republicans want as their Senate candidate next year. 36% say he's their top choice with Kim Guadagno second at 10% and no one else hitting double digits- Woody Johnson's at 9%, Mike Doherty at 7%, Anna Little at 4%, Joseph Kyrillos at 3%, and Tim Smith at 2%.
Full results here