I think it is fair to say that North Carolinians think about Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum in about the same way. That is, about a third of them think favorably of the three. Even though Romney is viewed favorably by 34 %, Paul by 33% and Santorum by 32%, the 3.9% margin of error puts them all on equal footing.
It is worth noting, too, that like President Obama, they are all upside down, meaning that more people said they had an unfavorable opinion of each man than a favorable one. (Wondering about Newt Gingrich? His unfavorables more than doubled his favorables, 59% to 23%.) The high unfavorable ratings aren’t surprising given that the candidates have spent the past several months criticizing each other.
It is also worth noting that none of that reflects how North Carolina Republicans will vote on May 8. Here is why: this was a survey of state residents, not Republicans likely to vote in the primary. In addition, the GOP campaigns have scarcely visited North Carolina. The candidates have had their hands full with the primaries and caucuses in other states. That likely explains why, despite 20 debates on national television, about 1 in 5 respondents said they didn’t know what they thought of Paul. (Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is in the state often enough that they it could designate it the home of the Southern White House while they’re in Charlotte for the Democratic Convention.)
How do the Republicans stack up nationally and in other states? An aggregation of poll results is here.
— John Robinson