With the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina less than a month away, a new poll from PPP finds President Obama leading by three points in the state. From PPP:

PPP’s newest North Carolina poll continues to find an extremely close race for President in the state, with Barack Obama at 49% to 46% for Mitt Romney. PPP started monthly polling of this contest in November of 2010 and Obama and Romney have now been within 3 points of each 21 of the last 22 months.

North Carolina voters aren’t thrilled with the job Obama’s doing- 48% approve and 49% disapprove. But they continue to have pretty tepid feelings toward Romney with only 42% of voters rating him favorably to 50% who have a negative opinion of him.

[...]

There’s an enormous gender gap in North Carolina with Obama leading 57-38 among women, but trailing 56-40 with men. Romney has a 48-44 lead with independents but Democrats can lose by that margin with independents and still win overall in North Carolina as long as they keep their party base in check and for now Obama’s doing that, taking 82% of the Democratic vote. Obama’s up 91-7 with African American voters- any thought that his position on gay marriage would hurt him on that front can be cast aside. And he’s only down 58-38 with white voters- if he can stay in that mid to upper 30s range with white voters it will probably be enough to put him over the top.

Despite this poll I still find it hard to believe Obama will carry the state this November. The Real Clear Politics polling average of what limited polling there has been of the state has Romney up by one.

Obama only barely won the state by less than half a percentage point in 2008. Of all the states he won in 2008, it was the closest, and no one thinks he will be riding nearly as big a national wave as he did last time. In addition the state Democratic party is having some serious problems.

That said the polling is tight enough that it is clear Romney is going to need to work hard to win the state. Every minute and dollar Romney spends trying to keep what was once a solid Republican state is likely a net positive for the Obama team. Obama can easily win re-election without North Carolina but it would be hard for Romney to beat him without it.