New Poll: North Carolina Governor Faces Tough Reelection

By John Celock

A new poll shows that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) faces a competitive race for reelection next year.

A Public Policy Poll released Wednesday shows that McCrory narrowly leading Democratic frontrunner, state Attorney General Roy Cooper (D), 44 percent to 41 percent in a 2016 matchup. McCrory holds a 46 percent to 33 percent lead over former state Rep. Ken Spaulding (D), who is challenging Cooper for the Democratic nomination.

McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, won the governorship by 10 points in 2012 over then Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton (D). He had been defeated in the 2008 gubernatorial race by former Gov. Bev Perdue (D) by four percentage points.

McCrory has been locked in a series of battles with progressives and moderates since he and a Republican majority state Legislature took office in 2013, the first all GOP-led state government in North Carolina since 1870. McCrory and Republican lawmakers have faced protests over actions including cutting state unemployment benefits, enacting new abortion restrictions, the elimination of teacher tenure, merit-pay for teachers, allowing fracking and not permitting the Medicaid expansion in the state.

The poll shows that 36 percent of those surveyed approve of McCrory’s job performance while 45 percent disapprove.

The survey does indicate that many voters do not know Cooper, who was elected to the first of his four terms as attorney general in 2000 and received the highest votes cast for any North Carolina politician in 2008. The poll showed that half of those surveyed did not have any opinion of him. Cooper was unopposed in the 2012 election.

North Carolina has become an increasingly swing state on a statewide basis, including in presidential contests. Out of the state’s 10 state constitutional officers, four are Republicans while six are Democrats.

The PPP poll showed that Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) leads former state Rep. Linda Coleman (D) 40 percent to 36 percent in a 2016 rematch of their 2012 contest. Forest defeated Coleman by 7,000 votes in the 2012 lieutenant governor’s race.