RALEIGH – Recently, a couple polls of myriad political races were conducted in the Old North State with results showing Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and Republican gubernatorial hopeful in 2020 trailing incumbent Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper by double digits. The gap seemed a bit unbelievable, especially considering that, in the 2016 elections, Forest received quite a bit more votes to be reelected lieutenant governor than Cooper received to be elected governor. A Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll, however, shows a lot less breathing room for Cooper.
We find Roy Cooper leading Dan Forest 45-41 for Governor. It was 47-35 in January but since then Forest’s lead has grown from 62-18 to 76-9 with Trump voters.
Recent Harper (47-37) and Emerson (52-38) polls found Cooper ahead by double digits:https://t.co/EFTTl7tM5D
— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) June 20, 2019
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“We also find a close race for Governor, with Roy Cooper leading Dan Forest 45-41. This represents a significant tightening from PPP’s last poll of the race in January when Cooper led 47-35. The movement since then is due to Forest consolidating his support among Republican leaning voters. On the January poll Forest’s advantage among Trump voters was 62-18, but now it’s 76-9. It’s worth noting that this is a much closer finding than two other recently released polls- a Civitas poll conducted by Harper Polling recently found Cooper ahead 47-37 and an Emerson College poll found Cooper ahead 52-38. Forest is also widely expected to draw a primary challenge from State Representative Holly Grange.”
That primary challenge is suspected to be backed by all the Establishment types, such as Sen. Thom Tillis9RINO-NC), that resent Forest’s inclination to stand on principle rather than kowtow to special interests and donor circles. We’re hearing N.C. House member Rep. Holly Grange (R-New Hanover) will be officially launching her campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination on July 15.
One would think that the Grange camp, and their swampy backers, are given pause in poll results that show Forest consolidating support among Republicans. However, they likely hope to override that with big D.C. money and a campaign that will attack Forest in man of the same ways Cooper would — too far right, ‘extreme Tea Party’ candidate, etc.
This PPP poll also places Cooper on less stable ground in terms of voter approval. While other polls had the Democratic governor with higher approval versus disapproval numbers, this one puts his overall approval rating near break even, “with 40% approving and 41% disapproving of the job he’s doing.”
Those numbers may not budge much if Forest is engaged in a primary battle with Grange. The Forest campaign has previously intimated that they would not ‘go negative’ against Cooper, but a scrappy primary challenge could harden and refine the attack mechanisms that will certainly be required to beat Cooper in November of next year.