RALEIGH, N.C. — While national polls show a razor close race for president, two surveys this week paint North Carolina as friendly territory for the incumbent.
WRAL poll conducted by Mason-Dixon
puts President George W. Bush ahead by nine points in North Carolina.
Voters' Voice Poll
conducted for WRAL-TV,
The News and Observer
, WUNC-FM shows Sen. John Kerry a bit closer.
According to the poll, the Bush/Cheney ticket holds a six-point lead over the Kerry/Edwards team heading into Tuesday's election.
North Carolina voters lean Republican 51 percent to the Democrats' 45 percent.
"It could be just random sampling noise. However, these polls are much closer together than they are farther apart. So, my guess is it's somewhere in between," said Mike Cobb, a political science professor at North Carolina State University.
Cobb points out that the president has kept his lead despite deep divisions over Iraq: Forty-six percent of those polled believe it was worth waging war in Iraq, while 48 percent say it was not.
More voters disapprove of the president's handling of Iraq than approve and only a few more think the United States is safer for sending in troops.
"Even if the idea that Iraq is not going well, it's not necessarily his fault or the alternative direction would be worse," Cobb said.
The polling expert said the bottom line is that North Carolina is still the Republican's state to lose.
"At the national level, North Carolina has been voting conservatively and Republican for quite some time. There's really no reason to believe that would be any different this election," he said.
Cobb said Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards will need to reverse nearly 30 years of political history to make it happen.