RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina will elect a new governor in 2024. Even though the general election is a more than seventeen months away, the campaigns are already at full throttle. 

A new poll by the John Locke Foundation shows Democratic candidate Josh Stein’s closest challenger to be Republican Mark Robinson. The incumbent Attorney General versus incumbent Lt. Governor gives Robinson a slight lead if the election were held today.

Of likely voters polled, 41.5% said they would vote for Mark Robinson compared to 40.8% who would vote for Josh Stein. As it stands, the matchup falls within the 3.96% margin of error.

“Margin of error is where North Carolina elections eat and breath. We’re the place where a 3 percent 4 percent win is a landslide. And that’s not really true for the rest of the country,” said Donald Bryson, John Locke Foundation president and chief strategy officer.

“I think that the Robinson/Stein race shows that it’s very close right now, but I think all three head-to-heads with Attorney General Stein against the three declared Republican challengers are all going to be fairly close, and it shows that the governor’s race isn’t going to be given to anyone. People are really going to have to fight for it,” Bryson added.

In a matchup between current North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell (R) and Josh Stein, 39.4% of likely voters said they would vote for Stein with 33.8% voting for Folwell.

The same poll said 39.4% percent of likely voters would cast a ballot for Josh Stein if he were to compete with former GOP congressman Mark Walker who would 36.8% of the vote. 

“You see that the Attorney General’s numbers are fairly stable across the board and that’s probably your base Democrat vote. What varies from there is basically name recognition and name ID,” Bryson explained. “Of course, former congressman Walker is a former congressman, he’s known well in the Triad area. Treasurer Folwell isn’t known very well statewide even though he’s run well statewide, but not many people know they even elect the Treasurer. Whereas Mark Robinson has received a lot of national publicity. So, I think that’s where you’re seeing the variation.”