CHAPEL HILL – A new poll shows that the North Carolina Democrats have gained ground in eight Senate districts, due in part to the General Assembly’s current unpopularity with many voters.

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling says that a Democrat challenger in Senate District 9, which covers New Hanover County, and District 19, which covers Cumberland County, would have a “clear advantage” over the Republican incumbents.

“What we have been finding with our state-wide polling is that people are very unhappy with the Legislature, and that in general, they are planning to vote Democratic next year, but what we wanted to do was see how this is actually playing out in the individual districts,” Jensen says.

The other six districts are classified as toss-ups, with close numbers between the incumbent Republicans and a Democrat challenger.

Jensen says this shift in the political landscape is due in part to several factors, including the lack of name recognition associated with Republican state senators. He says many haven’t established credibility with their constituents.

“Democrats would have to win all of those in order to even just be able to tie control of the state Senate, but what these polls show is that Democrats are in a good position to at least win some seats back,” he says.

Governor Pat McCrory’s approval numbers in districts that he won overwhelmingly last year have declined as well. Jensen added that recent PPP polls show that McCrory’s popularity “has fallen apart.”

“His popularity was really an asset for the Republican ticket, and what we are finding in these places is that he has gone down from being an asset to really being a problem,” Jensen says.