Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden's chief aide says president wants teams, no rivals Where is the campus debate on immigration? Gerald Ford Foundation urges 'dignified' presidential transition MORE is maintaining a slim lead in the typically red state of North Carolina, according to a new poll from Rasmussen that shows the Illinois Democrat leading by three percentage points in the state.

Rasmussen first reported Obama ahead in the state last week, with a survey that showed him wresting the lead from John McCain to go ahead by two percentage points. Until then, McCain had led in every single major poll in North Carolina since Obama defeated Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) for his party's nomination in June. (See RealClearPolitics' breakdown of North Carolina polls here.)

Polling firms are split, however on whether Obama leads there. Rasmussen is not the only firm to report a lead there, as Democratic firm Public Policy Polling shows Obama up two percentage points (after reporting a tie two weeks ago), but an American Research Group poll conducted Sept. 27-29 shows McCain ahead by three.

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The traditionally Republican state gave President Bush 56 percent of its vote in 2000 and 2004.

Obama was reported two weeks ago to be focusing on five states carried by Bush in 2004: Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia, with North Carolina listed among a second tier of "red" states Obama advisers are seeking to target, along with Georgia, Indiana, Montana, and North Dakota.

Of those second-tier targets, North Carolina is looking the most favorable for Obama, as major polls this month show him trailing in each of the other four.