• The most recent Elon University Poll shows a close race for governor between Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper (if he runs) and incumbent Republican Pat McCrory, with the governor with a 45-43 lead. In the presidential contest, Democrat Hillary Clinton would best former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 47-44, but Clinton is the fourth most-liked candidate in the field. Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, along with Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have more positive net favorable ratings than the former secretary of state.

• U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and Rep. Mark Meadows (11th District) told Buncombe County Republicans to campaign early in the 2016 cycle and stay positive. Hal Weatherman, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, used his boss’s improbable 2012 victory as reason for persistence.

• At an appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Democrat Clay Aiken, who lost the 2014 election for the 2nd Congressional District to incumbent Republican Renee Ellmers, used several profane and derogatory terms to describe the congresswoman. An Ellmers spokeswoman said Aiken’s behavior shows why “he was the runner-up,” referring to the title of an Esquire Network documentary series about Aiken’s campaign. Aiken added that he plans to run for office again.

• Cooper’s not-quite-campaign for governor continues ramping up quietly. The Charlotte Observer reports that Cooper has been meeting privately with groups of Democratic legislators to discuss his unannounced 2016 run.