The latest data from Public Policy Polling shows Walter Dalton leading Etheridge 36 to 26 percent.
Dalton has leapfrogged Etheridge in the last three PPP polls - going from 15, to 26, and now 36 percent over a matter of weeks.
Etheridge is no stranger to tough political battles. In 2010, he lost his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to Republican Renee Ellmers by less than 1,500 votes.
Now, trailing in the polls in his run for Governor, he's crisscrossing the state, shaking hands, kissing babies, and letting voters know why he should be governor of the Tar Heel State.
Tuesday, he spent about an hour in Fayetteville outside the Cliffdale Recreation Center trying to persuade residents to support his bid for governor. He said he's gotten a late start in the race and is not worried about trailing in the polls.
"The Lieutenant Governor has been at it four years, and the other folks have been at it a good while, but you know it's, I got into it cause it's really a time for a change," Etheridge offered.
The Army veteran brings a wealth of political experience to the table. He served as a Harnett County commissioner, spent nine years in the North Carolina House of Representatives, and two terms as the state's superintendent of public instruction.
Etheridge said he's found that education and jobs are on the minds of voters.
"If you're going to have good jobs, you got to have the educational foundation. They're linked together. What you do in education really drives the job creation and opportunity. If you look at North Carolina, where we've had good education, we have job growth and opportunity," he said.
The Democratic primary is May 8 and early voting has already begun.