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Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton (D)
Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton (D)
Public Policy Polling (PDF). 5/10-13. North Carolina voters. MoE ±3.8% (3/8-11 in parentheses):
Walter Dalton (D): 40 (35)
Pat McCrory (R): 46 (46)
Undecided: 13 (19)
The race to be North Carolina's governor hasn't looked too good for the Democrats for several years now. Dem incumbent Bev Perdue almost always trailed Republican Pat McCrory (the former mayor of Charlotte, who narrowly lost in 2008 to Perdue) in the polls, and when she decided to limit herself to one term instead of losing re-election, potential fill-in Democrats kept trailing McCrory by similarly wide margins. However, with the Democratic primary concluded, there's been notable movement in the Dems' direction... probably not enough to start thinking of the race as a tossup, but still a positive sign.

Walter Dalton, the state's Lieutenant Governor, won the Democratic primary last week in convincing fashion. He may be getting a bit of a consolidation bounce as a result, or it may be something more permanent as people finally figure out who he is; either way, he's down by only 6 instead of 11 as he was in March. Dalton's name rec is looking better, with 28/26 favorables now (up from 17/25 in January) and 47% still not sure, giving him room for growth. McCrory doesn't seem to be getting better-known, but he does start the general well-liked, at 41/28.

McCrory's definitely still starting out with the advantage here, but at least we can see that Dalton will keep this race competitive. The key numbers that should give us some hope: the GOP is already unified behind McCrory, who gets 84% of the Republican vote. Dalton only gets 68% of the Democratic vote, so undecideds are poised to break more in his direction.

The gubernatorial race, interestingly, is the Dems' weakest spot among the various statewide races; that's a good sign that the Democratic brand is still relatively healthy in North Carolina. In the Lt. Gov race (to replace Dalton), Dem nominee Linda Coleman leads both the GOPers who might emerge from runoff, Dan Forest (by a 41-40 margin) and Tony Gurley (by a 42-38 margin). Democratic incumbent state Treasurer Janet Cowell leads Steve Royal 41-37, while Walter Smith is competitive against incumbent GOP Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler, down 42-38.

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