Under the Dome

Pollster: N.C. might pick Obama in 2012, too

December 6, 2010 

With President Barack Obama flying into North Carolina today, it's a good time to look at whether he could carry the state again.

A recent poll says he'll be in a competitive position in two years.

The survey, by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, finds Obama leading or close to all potential Republican opponents in the state.

Obama would defeat former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin by 48 percent to 43 percent, would edge former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 46 percent to 45 percent and would tied former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 44 percent. He would lose to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee by a 44 percent to 48 percent.

All of the results were within the margin of error and, therefore, statistically tied.

Obama surprised many in 2008 by becoming the first Democrat to carry North Carolina since Jimmy Carter in 1976, edging out Arizona Sen. John McCain.

PPP recently took a similar poll in Virginia, which also went for Obama in 2008, finding that Obama was leading all Republicans there by five points. The firm found that Obama had lost more independent voters in North Carolina than he had in Virginia during the past two years.

The spin: "It has to be encouraging for President Obama that so soon after some wrote his political obituary, he is already looking just as strong in North Carolina and Virginia as he did in 2008," said Dean Debnam, the president of the Raleigh polling firm. "The remarkable thing is he is doing this well while still losing independents, unlike in 2008."

Obama has an approval rating of 45 percent, while 51 percent disapprove of the job he is doing.

As for Palin, 36 percent view her favorably, while 55 percent view her unfavorably. Gingrich's ratings are 33 percent favorable, 43 percent unfavorable. Huckabee is viewed favorably by 44 percent and unfavorably by 31 percent. Romney is viewed favorably by 33 percent, and unfavorably by 38 percent.

The survey of 517 North Carolina voters was conducted Nov. 19-21 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

Voters rate Sens. Burr, Hagan

Republican Sen. Richard Burr, having just come through an easy re-election campaign, is in much better political shape than his Democratic colleague, Kay Hagan.

Burr has a job approval rating of 44 percent and a disapproval rating of 34 percent, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based firm with Democratic leanings.

That compares to Hagan, who has an approval rating of 33 percent and a disapproval rating of 44 percent.

Fortunately for Hagan, she does not have to face the voters until 2014.

The poll of 517 North Carolina voters was conducted Nov. 19-21 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.

Smith going to Washington

On Tuesday afternoon, Joseph Smith, N.C. commissioner of banks, gets introduced to the Senate Banking Commission. U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan will do the honors. Smith is the White House nominee for director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Smith has been the state's banking commissioner since 2002, and he took an early stand against lending practices that put many low-income people into loans they couldn't afford. No word yet on who might replace Smith in North Carolina.

The FHFA runs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are responsible for funding more than half of all home loans made by banks.

rob.christensen@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4532

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