Roy Cooper, now N.C. Attorney General, takes an early lead over Gov. Pat McCrory in polling for the next gubernatorial election.
The survey, released by Public Policy Polling — a left-leaning firm in Raleigh — puts Cooper ahead of McCrory, though the difference is within the margin of error.
The survey asked participants to select the candidate they preferred.
“If the candidates for governor in 2016 were Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Roy Cooper, who would you vote for?" the poll said.
Voters slightly favored Cooper, though the percentages were extremely close — Cooper polling 42 percent to McCrory's 39.
“Neither one if them is ahead of the other if you read what the margin of error is,” said Jan Hannig, a UNC statistics professor.
Both candidates are within the 3.2 percent margin of error, which is a normal margin of error for a poll like this, Hannig said.
But the N.C. Democratic Party sees poll results as indicative of a rising trend, according to Ford Porter, spokesman for the party.
“What we’re seeing is, folks are really starting to jump ship on Governor McCrory,” Porter said. “I think we’re going to have a very competitive election next year.”
But Ford said McCrory should be “feeling the heat.”
Mitch Kokai, spokesman for the right-leaning John Locke Foundation said he believes the Republican Party is not especially concerned at this point.
“There is no need for worry,” Kokai said. “ But Republicans know that Pat McCrory cannot expect a cakewalk for his re-election.”
Given North Carolina's rather even political division, Kokai said he expects the candidates' strength in campaigning as well statewide issues to be a deciding factor.
“Most candidates in a statewide race are going to find themselves flirting with a 50-50 chance of winning."
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.