Our newest North Carolina Presidential poll falls into what's becoming a familiar pattern as we take the pulse of swing states across the country: Mitt Romney would be in a toss up with Barack Obama right now, while Obama holds healthy leads over the rest of the Republican field.
Obama leads Romney by 3 points in the state, 46-43. However most of the undecided voters are GOP leaning so it's probably best to think of that match up as a tie. The numbers are an improvement for Obama compared to a month ago when he and Romney were dead even. We've seen a general improvement in Obama's numbers as opposed to the Republican alternatives in the wake of the debt deal. My take on the fallout from that based on the polling we've done is that it hurt Obama's image a little bit but it probably hurt the GOP's image even more.
Obama's 3 point lead over Romney underscores another emerging reality: North Carolina is likely to play a much more important role in the Presidential race next year than it has in years. Obama's doing better against Romney here than in more quintessential swing states like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Nevada and the numbers are very comparable to places like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia.
North Carolina was extremely competitive in 2008 but it was the cherry on top for Obama- he really didn't need it. With his numbers holding up better now in the state than in other places that he won by much wider margins last time around, North Carolina is a good deal more likely to be one of the states key to getting him to 270 electoral votes. It's quite a remarkable shift from 2004 when Democrats basically gave up on the state in September.
Against the rest of the GOP field Obama has pretty healthy leads- it's 8 points over Rick Perry at 48-40, 10 over Michele Bachmann at 50-40, and 13 over both Herman Cain and Sarah Palin at 50-37 and 52-39. There are a lot more undecided Republicans than Democrats in all of those match ups so the final results would probably be closer if voters really had to cast their ballots today but the margins are wide enough it's pretty safe to say that he would beat any of those four at this point in time.
Obama's approval rating is 46%, with 50% of voters disapproving of him. That's up a tick from a 45/51 spread on last month's poll but below where he's been throughout most of the year. The main thing dragging him down is that only 38% of independents are happy with the job he's doing to 56% who disapprove. It's also worth noting that in metro Charlotte, where the Democratic convention will be held next year, his approval numbers break down at a pretty poor 41/56 spread.
It looks like North Carolina's battleground days are here to stay.
Full results here