The raw numbers alone tell only part of the story. Here's the analysis of the pollsters:
Virginia Foxx has only a 45% approval rating with voters in the district, well below the 50% threshold that is considered safe for an incumbent. It is a remarkably low 30% with the independent voters in the district, whose votes will be critical if Carter is to win this fall.
On the issue that matters most to voters in the district, Roy Carter has the edge over Virginia Foxx. 49% of respondents picked the economy as their biggest concern from a list of eight major issues, and among those folks Carter leads Foxx 48-45. If Carter is able to keep the campaign focused on the bread and butter issues that most affect the daily lives of people in the 5th district, he will have the upper hand.
There are indications that the Republican brand is damaged in the district. Although he received 66% of the vote in the district in both 2000 and 2004, President Bush's approval rating is just 34%. Just 20% of respondents think that the country is heading in the right direction under the current Republican administration.
Although trailing, Barack Obama and Bev Perdue are both outpacing recent Democratic performance in the district. Obama trails John McCain by 19 points, a significant improvement on the 33 point losses Al Gore and John Kerry sustained against George W. Bush. Perdue trails Pat McCrory by 8 points here, where Mike Easley lost to Richard Vinroot by 12 in 2000. It's also worth noting that Carter is polling at a higher level than both Perdue and Obama, an indication that he can differentiate himself from national Democrats, something that will be key to victory in this Republican leaning district.
If Roy Carter gets the funding he needs to run a strong media campaign that will complement his already strong grassroots backing, he has a genuine chance of beating Virginia Foxx this fall given the political climate and her lacking approval rating.