A new survey by Public Policy Polling shows Republican Harold Johnson would give Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell a stronger challenge in the fall than Tim D'Annunzio.
Kissell leads both Republicans in hypothetical match-ups, but leads D'Annunzio by a much wider margin.
The poll also showed Kissell with "a steep decline" in his approval numbers since January. Johnson and D'Annunzio face off in a Tuesday runoff.
Tom Jensen, a spokesman for the Democratic-leaning firm from Raleigh, said D'Annunzio has been hurt by critical stories since the May 4 primary, including criticism from GOP officials. In th poll, 39 percent said their opinion of him had grown more negative since the first primary.
"The various controversies that have cropped up around D'Annunzio over the last six weeks have been devastating for his poll numbers," Jensen said on his blog.
PPP is expected to release head-to-head numbers in the GOp race on Wednesday.