As expected, the presidential race here between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is neck and neck. President Obama barely won this state in 2008; Mitt Romney barely won it in 2012.
And the U.S. Senate race for Sen. Richard Burr's reelection is close, too, even though 71 percent of respondents told Monmouth they have no opinion of the Republican's lesser-known Democratic challenger, Deborah Ross. (This suggests that voters at this stage are voting based almost purely on party loyalty. The fact that this race is close could also hint at a very good year for Senate Democrats, but that's another story.)
But party loyalty doesn't seem to factor into the governor's race nearly as much as the legacy of the bathroom bill. Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper has a big lead in this new poll:
Put another way, McCrory is doing worse in his own state than Trump is — and just 34 percent of likely North Carolina voters say they like Trump.
McCrory is one of the few statewide candidates in swing states that is underperforming Trump rather than outperfomring him. (For comparison's sake, Trump is trailing Clinton by four points in a Monmouth Poll in Ohio, while Sen. Rob Portman (R) is beating his Democratic challenger by eight points.)
The reason for McCrory's outlier performance isn't hard to determine. A majority of likely voters (55 percent) disapprove of the bathroom law, which became a flash point this summer for gay rights supporters, with McCrory quickly cast as the villain by activists — and the business community.
McCrory's approval rating dropped almost immediately after signing it into law. He registered his worst reelection numbers yet in a poll taken a few weeks afterward from Elon University showing him down by six to Cooper.
He lost the messaging war to savvy opponents, who smartly cast the law as an affront to the LGBT and business communities. And the business community reacted accordingly.
PayPal pulled out of a deal in the state weeks after finalizing it. Bruce Springsteen dropped a concert there. Hollywood said it'd stop filming there. Most recently, the National Basketball Association said it won't host its 2017 All-Star game in Charlotte, a huge loss for the city that would have filled nearly every hotel room and brought in an estimated $100 million.
Suddenly, McCrory found himself fielding attacks that he was the anti-jobs candidate, normally something Democrats have to play defense on.
McCrory dismissed the NBA's decision as "B.S.," and he's since tried to signal his support for some LGBT protections more broadly, like calling for a reinstatement of their ability to sue for discrimination. He recently launched a new TV ad about the law, featuring a woman thanking him for keeping her safe from potential bad guys in women's bathrooms and locker rooms.
His campaign says they're convinced the Monmouth poll is an outlier and that McCrory has the momentum. He's been racking in the endorsements of state law enforcement agencies, for example.
But that hasn't seemed to move the needle much. Monmouth found that 70 percent of likely voters think the law has been bad for North Carolina's reputation, including 41 percent of likely voters who approve of the law.
Even before North Carolina became synonymous with bathroom bills, McCrory's reelection campaign to a second term was setting up to be one of the most competitive in the nation. Until a few weeks after he signed the bill, polling showed the race neck and neck.
A handful of polls since then have shown McCrory up, but the trend is clear. While the other North Carolina Republicans at the top of the ticket are hanging in there, McCrory is at risk of losing reelection. And if he loses, the bathroom bill will be a major reason why.