North Carolina Governor Trailing

By John Celock

A new poll shows that next year’s race for North Carolina governor continues to promise to be a cliffhanger.

A Public Policy Poll released Wednesday shows that state Attorney General Roy Cooper, the likely Democratic nominee in next year’s gubernatorial race, leads Gov. Pat McCrory (R) 44 percent to 41 percent. The poll comes a month after a poll showed McCrory holding a similar lead over Cooper in the swing state. Fifteen percent of those surveyed were unsure of who they’d vote for.

The poll showed that McCrory would hold a sizeable lead over former state Rep. Ken Spaulding, who is challenging Cooper for the Democratic nomination. The poll showed that McCrory would defeat the little known Spaulding 43 percent to 32 percent. Cooper, a four-term attorney general, is viewed as the frontrunner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

The poll showed that McCrory, who won the governorship by 10 points in 2012, has a 38 percent approval rating with 44 percent of those surveyed disapproving of his job performance. The poll indicates that Cooper has a 32 percent favorable rating compared to 24 percent unfavorable. Forty four percent though do not have an opinion of Cooper. The poll also showed that 72 percent did not have an opinion of Spaulding.

PPP president Dean Debnam said in a statement that McCrory’s recent vetoes of conservative legislation could have hurt his standing with GOP voters it the poll. McCrory is currently doing battle with Republican lawmakers in an attempt to sustain his veto of legislation that would allow public officials to opt out of performing same sex marriages.

The North Carolina governor’s race promises to be one of the most competitive in the nation in 2016, with Democrats looking to regain power in the swing state. With Republicans taking control of the Legislature and governor’s office in 2013, for the first time since 1870, progressives in Raleigh and Washington have placed North Carolina at the top of their 2016 target list.

McCrory and Republican lawmakers have faced a series of protests since 2013 over a variety of actions including cutting unemployment benefits, new abortion restrictions, eliminating teacher tenure, allowing fracking and not permitting the Medicaid expansion in the state.