Raleigh, N.C. — Republican Pat McCrory continues to build on his wide lead over Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton as the gubernatorial race nears a conclusion, according to a WRAL News poll released Tuesday.
SurveyUSA polled 682 likely voters statewide between Saturday and Monday and found that 53 percent would vote for McCrory if the election were held now, compared with 36 percent for Dalton and 5 percent for Libertarian candidate Barbara Howe. Seven percent remain undecided.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
In a WRAL News poll conducted four weeks ago, McCrory's lead over Dalton was 51 to 39 percent.
McCrory holds sizable leads among almost every demographic group – 22 points among male voters, 12 points among females, 14 points among voters ages 18-49, 19 points among voters age 50 or older, 42 points among white voters, 12 points among Latinos, 20 points among college graduates and 12 to 25 points among low-income, middle-class and wealthy voters.
The former Charlotte mayor also has reversed his slide in the Triangle, where Dalton held a 48 to 38 percent lead a month ago, to lead 48 to 42 percent. He already led handily in his hometown of Charlotte, the Triad region and eastern North Carolina.
Dalton's lone stronghold is among black voters, where he holds a 78 to 14 percent advantage.
"It's a very difficult race for Walter Dalton from the get-go, and he is maybe slipping as we get closer to Election Day," said David McLennan, a political science professor at William Peace University in Raleigh.
"He started behind in terms of name recognition. He started behind in terms of cash," McLennan said. "I think the one thing he couldn't overcome is there's a Democratic fatigue out there among voters when they think about Democratic governors."
Dalton clearly has trouble connecting with independents and voters dissatisfied with President Barack Obama. McCrory leads by more than 2-1 among independents polled, and he also picks up 21 percent support among registered Democrats. Meanwhile, only 5 percent of registered Republicans say they plan to vote for Dalton.
Traditional Democratic efforts to get out the vote before Election Day also haven't helped Dalton much, according to the poll.
Compared with Obama's 13-point lead among respondents who have already cast in-person ballots, Dalton has only a 2-point margin over McCrory. Meanwhile, McCrory holds a 20-point margin over people who plan to cast early votes this week and a 29-point lead among people who will wait to vote on Election Day.
Other Council of State races
In the race to succeed Dalton as lieutenant governor, Republican Dan Forest is following McCrory's lead by building on his advantage over Democrat Linda Coleman. Forest now leads 48 to 42 percent, with 10 percent undecided, compared with his 46 to 43 percent lead in early October.
Forest, a Wake Forest architect, is the son of longtime Congresswoman Sue Myrick. Coleman is a former state lawmaker and state personnel director.
State Treasurer Janet Cowell holds a 47 to 42 percent lead over Republican challenger Steve Royal, a Pleasant Hill businessman and CPA.
State Auditor Beth Wood holds a slim 44 to 42 percent lead over Republican challenger Debra Goldman, a Wake County school board member who's made more headlines recently for a 2010 burglary at her Cary home that led to allegations of an extramarital affair with a fellow board member.
Wood holds an 11-point lead in the race among Triangle voters, while Goldman leads in the Republican strongholds of Charlotte and the Triad region.
McLennan attributed the close races in auditor and treasurer races to McCrory's coattails.
"If Pat McCrory ends up with a 16- or 17-point margin, he may pull other candidates through," he said.