Poll gives Romney small lead in NC as Democrats gather in Charlotte

jmorrill@charlotteobserver.comSeptember 3, 2012 

  • Recent polls • Aug. 28: High Point/SurveyUSA: Romney 43, Obama, 43. • Aug. 27: CNN/Time: Romney 48, Obama 47. • Aug. 7: Public Policy Polling: Obama 49, Romney 46.

Republican Mitt Romney appears to have gotten his bounce from his party’s national convention – at least in the state hosting the Democratic convention, according to a poll released Sunday.

The new Elon University/Charlotte Observer Poll shows the GOP presidential candidate leading President Barack Obama 47 percent to 43 percent in North Carolina.

The poll, which has a margin of error of 3 percentage points, surveyed likely voters from Aug. 25-30, during the GOP convention in Tampa. Elon did the poll in partnership with the Observer and the News & Observer of Raleigh.

“I would have to say that is a small, modest bump,” said poll director Kenneth Fernandez.

Elon University officials will unveil complete results of the survey, along with results from the North Carolina governor’s race, at a Monday news conference.

Recent polls have shown the candidates essentially tied in North Carolina, considered among a dozen or so national battlegrounds.

After days of praising their nominee – and bashing his rival – conventions historically have given their candidates a polling bounce, even if it’s short-lived.

One reason for Romney’s edge: By a margin of 52 percent to 39 percent, North Carolina voters say he would do a better job handling the economy.

“The numbers are not surprising given that unemployment in North Carolina has been above 9 percent in the state for 42 consecutive months,” said Rachel Adams, a Romney spokeswoman. “North Carolinians are not better off than they were four years ago and are looking for a new direction and a new president.”

Cameron French, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said the poll echoes others. But he predicted that the Obama field operation will prove decisive in November.

“Despite the millions of dollars Romney continues to pour into false and misleading attacks, North Carolina voters just aren’t buying Romney’s record as a corporate buyout specialist and failed governor,” French said.

The poll showed:

• While Romney enjoys a 12-point lead among male voters, the candidates are virtually tied among women. Other polls have given Obama a wide lead among women. A CNN/Time survey last week, for example, showed women favored the president by 10 points.

Republicans, including Ann Romney at the Republican convention, directly appealed to women in an effort to close the perceived gender gap.

• Obama may be suffering from an “excitement” gap. Fifty-one percent of Romney supporters described themselves as “very excited” compared to 47 percent of Obama voters.

• Romney has made no inroads among African American voters. Only 1 percent of black voters support him, while 89 percent back Obama. Ten percent say they don’t know or refused to answer.

• Romney has a 3-point edge when voters were asked which candidate most shared their values.

Romney’s overall 4-point advantage doesn’t make North Carolina any less a battleground, according to Scott Keeter, director of survey research for Pew Research.

“A 4-point lead is not an insurmountable advantage,” he said Sunday. “particularly since the Democratic convention is about to start …

“He who bounces last bounces best.”

Morrill: 704-358-5059

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