A pair of new polls show Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who is on the list of Democratic targets this year, is well ahead of either of his potential Democratic challengers. The polls, one from Rasmussen and one from PPP (D), show Burr with double-digit leads over both Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Iraq War vet Cal Cunningham, who will face Democratic voters in a runoff election June 22.
In the PPP poll, out today, Burr leads Marshall by a margin of 46-39. The poll was taken over the weekend among 601 registered voters and has a margin of error of 3.9%. The PPP numbers confirm a Rasmussen poll taken June 3. That poll, which surveyed 500 likely voters and has a margin of error of 3%, shows Burr leading Marshall by a margin of 50-36.
The numbers aren’t any better for Cunningham, who is the national Democrats’ choice for taking on Burr. In the PPP poll, Burr leads Cunningham by a margin of 46-35. In the Rasmussen poll, Burr leads 47-35.
Inside the PPP poll is more potentially good news for Burr. As the Democratic race has moved further away from the May 18 primary — which ended in a runoff between Cunningham and Marshall after neither candidate managed to get 40% of the vote in a three-way race — the number of voters who know who the Democratic candidates are has actually gone down. The candidates are not on the air, and without seeing them everyday, state Democrats have apparently forgotten about them. That means the nominee will have to spend big to spread his or her name to an electorate that largely doesn’t know what to think about him or her.
“Marshall dropped from 44% of voters having an opinion of her a month ago to now 37% and Cunningham’s gone from 34% to 26%,” PPP pollster Tom Jensen writes in his analysis of the new poll.
Meanwhile, Burr continues to see the negative personal poll numbers that have led Democrats to say he’s vulnerable in the fall. “For the fourth month in a row more North Carolinians disapprove than approve of the job he’s doing,” Jensen writes. But Burr has seen a bump in support among independents, an important voting bloc in the Tar Heel State.
“The big picture on this race stays the same,” Jensen writes. “Burr is unpopular but his opponents aren’t well known enough yet to fully capitalize on his vulnerability.”