WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A new poll shows little change in how North Carolina voters view the candidates for governor.
Public Policy Polling found Pat McCrory leads Walter Dalton 47-40. That's almost identical to McCrory's 46-40 advantage in May.
Negative ads have not had much effect on the candidates' images either. McCrory's favorability this month is a +14 spread at 44/30, little different from last month's +13 at 41/28. There's been similarly little impact on Dalton. Last month he was at 28/26 and now he's at 28/28.
PPP found McCrory continues to be the favorite for a couple of key reasons. He's been persistently strong with independents and leads 47/31 with them this month. And his party is much more unified around him than Dalton's is. McCrory's taking 83 percent of the Republican vote to Dalton's 68 percent of Democrats. Some party unity gap is to be expected in North Carolina because there are so many conservative Democrats, but it was only seven points in PPP's final poll of 2008.
There are some reasons for encouragement for Dalton in this poll, PPP said. His post-primary bounce has sustained itself for the last month despite the negative ads being run against him. Pollsters say it seems unlikely McCrory will return to the 15-point lead he started out the race with, or anything particularly close to it. McCrory's also losing his image as a centrist. PPP found 44 percent of voters think he would best be described as a conservative to only 27 percent who think he's a moderate. Also, 50 percent of the undecideds, who skew Democratic, are supporting Barack Obama to 30 percent for Mitt Romney. If those folks ended up voting the same party for Governor that they are for President, it would bring Dalton within four points.
One outcome of a Republican leading at the top of the ticket could be tough times for some Democratic Council of State members seeking reelection. Incumbent Treasurer Janet Cowell leads challenger Steve Royal only 34-33, and Auditor Beth Wood is tied with her challenge Debra Goldman at 36 percent. In the other statewide race where the general election match up has been set Republican Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has a commanding 45-31 lead over challenger Walter Smith.