Obama’s rise in N.C.? Thank advertising

In our Labor Day poll, Gov. Romney had a four-point lead over President Obama among North Carolina likely voters. The latest poll results show that it’s a dead heat. Why the change?

Several possible reasons:

* The results are within the margin of error on both polls. So, it is a statistical possibility that either candidate has been ahead or that the race has been a dead heat all along.

* Obama got a boost from the Democratic National Convention that began on Labor Day in Charlotte. Possible, but little data to support it.

* Obama got a boost from the debates, although that doesn’t seem likely, given his performance in the first debate and national polls following each debate.

* Our polling indicates that respondents believe Obama is better able to handle national security, health care, foreign relations and immigration. Of course, on the big issue — the economy — they think Romney would handle it better.

* And most likely, Obama has spent $17.5 million on advertising in the state vs. Romney’s $12.8 million. The bulk of advertising by both candidates has been negative. Negative ads — viewers say they hate them — fire up the base and help persuade the undecided.

— John Robinson

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