Last week, the governor garnered some rare support from progressives with his bold vetoes of two controversial bills. This led to speculation that by distancing himself from the conservative legislature and firmly placing himself in the middle, McCrory would win increased support from moderates, assisting him in his reelection campaign.
That’s not an unreasonable theory. But so far PPP hasn’t found any evidence of it. In fact, they find that the governor’s moves have probably backfired. McCrory hurt himself with the conservative base while failing to significantly improve his standing with moderates. Let’s do a little digging into this new poll and see what we can find:
Numbers in parentheses = change since last poll in April
38% Approve (+2)
44% Disapprove (-1)
The general trend in the approval numbers is not cause for alarm. He’s gone from -9 to -6. Not good, but PPP concedes that McCrory’s numbers might improve further once the legislature is out of session. These numbers point to a toss-up race next year.
32% Favorable (+5)
24% Unfavorable (+1)
Cooper’s numbers are stronger than two months ago. His name recognition is at least 56%. So long as McCrory’s approval is underwater, the GOP is going to have to drive up the Attorney General’s negatives.
44% Cooper (+3)
41% McCrory (-3)
Now, this is not good. Cooper leads even though his name recognition is not that high. McCrory is at 41%, a dangerous place to be for an incumbent governor. If McCrory continues to move to the middle but his approvals don’t budge, it might be time to ask if voters have made up their minds on the governor and nothing he does will change their opinions of him. Right now, though, it’s too early to say.
35% Approve (-1)
36% Approve (-1)
Nothing has changed since April, except technically Burr has gotten more anonymous. Typically, numbers like these indicate a reelection that will be determined by how the national winds are blowing. There’s just one problem for Democrats: they don’t have a candidate, and in the past Burr has proven to be a formidable candidate and a strong fundraiser.
Democrats’ Senate Candidates Favorability
Numbers in parentheses: net favorability. The number after that is change since April.)
Mike McIntyre 17/16 (+1) N/A
Grier Martin 10/11 (-1) +1
Dan Blue 16/18 (-2) +1
Jeff Jackson 8/13 (-5) +2
Kay Hagan 39/51 (-12) +4
Of the Democrats, only Mike McIntyre’s favorability is above water. But McIntyre just took a position with a law firm and is very unlikely to run. Kay Hagan is the best-known candidate but also the most disliked. Notably, all the candidates’ numbers have gotten better, but that’s probably due to a more favorable sample.
Burr 49% (-1)
Hagan 40% (+2)
Burr 48% (+1)
Blue 34% (-2)
Burr 46% (no change)
Martin 31% (-1)
Burr 48% (+2)
Jackson 30% (no change)
Burr leads everyone. His leads range from 9 points to 18 points. McIntyre and Hagan come closest to Burr. From these numbers, it looks like McIntyre would actually be the strongest candidate of those included in this poll. He holds Burr to only 43% and he’s the only candidate with a positive favorability rating. But again, he’s not at all likely to run.
41% Forest (+1)
37% Coleman (+1)
In a potential Forest/Coleman rematch, Forest leads by 4, a lead identical to two months ago. Forest is probably the most high-profile socially conservative politician in the state, except for maybe Phil Berger. The difference is that Berger has a district that’s well to the right of the state as a whole while Forest has to run statewide. Forest probably has his eye on the Governor’s Mansion in the future. A healthy reelection for Lieutenant Governor would certainly give him credibility should he seek that office. But that’s not at all a sure thing, especially if Democrats run a strong campaign. More than any other political figure in the state, his reelection will be less about him and more about political forces outside of his control.
The bottom line: McCrory’s move to the center has yet to reestablish his moderate brand with voters, but it may have disenchanted his base. He’s going to have to walk a fine line if he wants to maintain the support of both groups. On the Senate side, Burr is showing strength that belies his relatively low numbers and general anonymity. And for Lieutenant Governor, Forest is favored in a rematch against Linda Coleman, even though he hasn’t shied away from social issues. Overall, not much has changed since PPP was last in the field two months ago. Interestingly, McCrory’s performance against Cooper seems to be converging with his overall approval rating. We’ll see if that continues in the months to come.
John Wynne is the “conservative voice” at PoliticsNC, where he also provides polling analysis and commentary on legislative campaigns. When not writing about politics, he enjoys gardening and listening to opera. Contact: email@example.com.