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NC-Sen: New Poll Has Cal Cunningham (D) Beating Thom Tillis (R) 43-38, Biden Beating Trump 48-44

6 min read

Here’s the latest news today out of North Carolina courtesy of Meredith College’s latest poll:


After a tumultuous period in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham, there appears to be little change since the October Poll. Cunningham maintains his modest lead (43.3%38.2%) with a high number of respondents (14.1%) indicating they had not made up their mind.

Both candidates get strong support from their respective partisan basesCunningham garners 80% support among Democrats and Tillis gets 78.9% support from Republicans. Unaffiliated voters break 21 for Cunningham.

Tillis performs better among white voters, but is not as strong as Donald Trump in the presidential race (43%) and Cunningham polls well with Black and Hispanic voters, but not as well as Biden. Among other demographic groups, Tills performs well with males, Gen X voters, and rural voters. Cunningham does slightly better with women, urban voters, and younger voters.

When we asked why Cunningham and Tillis supporters were planning on voting (or did vote for) their respective candidates, loyalty to the party was a very important reason for many voters with 38% of those indicating support for Tillis said they supported him because he was a Republican, while 31.8% of Cunningham’s supporters said they supported him because he was a Democrat. A slight plurality of voters supporting both Tillis (39.4%) and Cunningham (39.9%) said their vote was based on support for the individual candidate.

“The two bombshellsTillis’ COVID diagnosis and Cunningham’s marital infidelityhave not affected the basic trajectory of the race,” said David McLennan. “Thom Tillis remains an endangered incumbent. The two ‘October surprises’ may have had the effect of causing a number of voters to say they have not made up their mind.”

Here’s some more polling out of North Carolina this week for comparison:


Cunningham has a huge lead with those who voted early in the Rasmussen Poll.



— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) October 21, 2020


— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) October 20, 2020


— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) October 20, 2020


— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) October 20, 2020

Biden also continues to pull ahead in the polling and it looks like the suburbs in Raleigh are going to be a big help for him:

When Barack Obama turned North Carolina blue in 2008, Democrats hoped the Obama coalition would usher in a new era of competitiveness in the state. Instead, the next decade-plus was marked largely by disappointing election results — and no more presidential wins for the party.

Twelve years later, Joe Biden is challenging for a win in North Carolina again, but the path he is carving through the state looks different than his old running mate’s. Where Obama activated Black voters, young people and peeled off just enough college-educated white women to win, Biden’s coalition looks older, whiter, more suburban and even more female.

It’s a reflection of a state in flux, where two trends have collided: huge growth in suburban counties, including at least 1 million new residents in the last decade, and a deep distaste for President Donald Trump among white college-educated voters, which the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated. As strongly as anywhere else in the country, North Carolina has seen intense party polarization based on region, with Trump consolidating and improving the GOP’s standing in rural areas but hemorrhaging support among suburban voters of all races.
That trade has worked for Trump in some states in the past. But this year, public polling averages give Biden a slight, 2-to-3 point advantage in a state Trump almost certainly must win to get reelected. Where Obama lost white voters with college degrees by 20 points in North Carolina in 2008, according to exit polls, Biden now holds hefty leads. While the huge age gap and young support that powered Obama has evened out across different generations, growing metro areas like Charlotte have tilted against the GOP.

“North Carolina will reach a tipping point the same way Virginia did, with the northern Virginia suburbs pulling it along,” said Morgan Jackson, a Democratic strategist who is advising both Gov. Roy Cooper and Cal Cunningham, the Democratic Senate nominee. In recent years, Jackson noted, Virginia faded from central battleground to solidly Democratic.

And with early voting way up, especially for Democrats, here’s another sign that Republicans are nervous:

Republicans in the presidential battleground state of North Carolina asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to block lower court rulings that allowed six extra days to accept ballots sent by mail.

The Trump campaign, the state and national Republican parties and Republican leaders of the state Legislature said decisions by North Carolina's Board of Elections, upheld by federal courts, “pose an immediate threat to the integrity of the federal elections process.”

The board changed the mail ballot deadline from Nov. 6, which the Legislature set in June, to Nov. 12. A federal district judge refused to block the change, and so did the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


Donald Trump has a math problem in North Carolina.
The state the President won by more than 3 percentage points four years ago has continued its gradual political transformation, moving away from the red states to its south and toward its bluer neighbors to the north. The transformation has been propelled by a mix of factors: The state is growing more diverse with Hispanic and Asian immigrants, its cities and suburbs are booming with unbridled growth from northern transplants, older voters from the northeast who are fleeing Trump have retired to the state's coast and the Tar Heel State's once large rural population is shrinking.
This shift has been occurring for years, but it could present Trump and Republicans with a perfect storm of problems at the same time that the state has become the center of the political universe with close races for president, Senate and governor. And many of his diehard voters in rural Eastern North Carolina know it.
Let’s keep up the momentum to flip North Carolina Blue. Click below to donate and get involved with Cunningham, Cooper, Biden and their fellow North Carolina Democrats campaigns:

Joe Biden

North Carolina:

Cal Cunningham

Roy Cooper For Governor

Yvonne Lewis Holley for Lt. Governor

Josh Stein for Attorney General

Elaine Marshall for Secretary of State

Cheri Beasley for Supreme Court

Lucy Inman for Supreme Court

Mark Davis for Supreme Court

Deborah Ross for Congress

Kathy Manning for Congress

Moe Davis for Congress

North Carolina Democratic Party

Ronnie Chatterji

Jessica Holmes

Pat Timmons-Goodson

Brian Farkas

Adam Ericson

Terence Everitt

Sydney Batch

Kimberly Hardy

Frances Jackson

Ricky Hurtado

Dan Beese

Christy Clark

Brandon Lofton

Donna Lake

Harper Peterson

Allen Wellons

Kirk DeViere

Terri LeGrand

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