A bad stretch of news just got a little worse for Barack Obama. A poll in one of 2012's critical battleground states, North Carolina, has Mitt Romney pulling ahead for the first time since October.
Raleigh's Public Policy Polling most recent survey, released Tuesday, has Romney leading Obama 48-46. That's a gain of seven points for the Republican since April, when the president led, 49-44.
Romney has made significant gains in his favorability ratings, while Obama has stayed flat. Another big factor, says PPP's Tom Jensen:
"Romney's erased what was a 51-38 lead for Obama with independents and taken a 42-41 lead with that voting group. He's also increased his share of the Democratic vote from 15% to 20%, suggesting he's convincing some more conservative voters within the party to cross over."Your caveats: It's only June, the lead is a statistical dead heat, and PPP's poll also shows Obama with only 76 percent of the black vote. (Exit polls showed him with more than 90 percent of that vote in 2008.) Says Jensen of the latest poll: "That seems like an unrealistically low share of African American voters for Obama."
Still, this poll and others - along with an economy that many expect to struggle through summer and fall - has Republicans feeling increasingly confident about November.
PPP, which largely does polling for Democratic clients, released another survey today showing that not much has changed in the N.C. governor's race. Republican Pat McCrory leads Democrat Walter Dalton 47-40, about the same as his 46-40 lead in May's PPP poll.
Why McCrory should like this poll: He continues to do well with independents, leading Dalton 47-31. Also, he's doing much better with voters in his party (83 percent) than Dalton is in his (68 percent.)
Peter St. Onge