New poll shows tight race in NC between Trump, Biden

Capitol Report

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – New polling released Thursday shows a tight race for president in North Carolina as former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign tries to engage voters virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Biden leads President Donald Trump 45-44 in the latest poll released by the conservative Civitas Institute.

The poll was conducted in the days before Biden announced Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate and has a margin of error of +/-4 points. 

The campaigns are adapting their strategies to reach voters as most in-person events have been canceled. 

On Thursday, former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg took part in a virtual round table with North Carolina leaders focused on Biden’s plans for military families and veterans. 

Buttigieg, who is himself a veteran, has been campaigning for Biden and Democratic candidates in North Carolina over the last several months, helping with fund raising efforts.  

“Campaigning is largely about gathering people together. But, I’ve also been really moved by the different ways that we’ve found through technology and other means a way to connect,” he said in an interview with CBS 17. 

Buttigieg faced off against Harris and Biden during debates leading up to the primaries.  

“I’ve seen her up close. I’ve seen her as we’re all competing. And, she is somebody who will be ready to do the job and somebody who I know personally I’m looking forward to seeing debate somebody else I know very well, which is Mike Pence,” he said.

Buttigieg is the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and Pence is the former governor of the state. 

In a statement, Gates McGavick, spokesman for Trump’s re-election campaign, said, “President Trump has supported our military at every turn, passing historic pay raises for our troops, securing crucial reforms for veterans, and ensuring American dominance in space. By surrounding himself with failed presidential candidates like Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden is foreshadowing his own future.” 

Morrisville Town Councilman Steve Rao, who is Indian-American and a supporter of Biden during the primary season, said the selection of Harris is an important step forward for representation. Harris’s mother is originally from India. 

“I think we have, as John Lewis said before he died, come a long way. We can, given the right opportunity, dream big dreams,” Rao said.  

Latest polling 

The Civitas poll released Thursday is in line with several recent polls of the state showing how tight the race is. To view the poll, click here.

The RealClearPolitics average of those recent polls has Trump up by 0.7 percent over Biden. Trump won North Carolina in 2016. 

Donald Bryson, president and CEO of Civitas, said Thursday, “It appears that (President Trump has) lost some party loyalty, and he’s lost some of the voters that define themselves as very conservative. And, so he’s going to have to make up some of the ground.”   

The poll found 70 percent of likely voters in North Carolina think the country is going in the wrong direction. Bryson said it’s the first time the poll has registered a number that high since 2011. 

“There’s definitely a partisan divide on optimism versus pessimism in the direction of the country. It just appears that there’s a lot more momentum behind the pessimism driving the Biden vote,” he said. “The senior vote, 65 and plus, is very tight between Biden and Trump, something that Trump has led historically in North Carolina. And, so it might be that some of the public health messaging will have to switch in order to get some of those votes back for President Trump.” 

Civitas also gauged voters’ attitudes on the president’s call for law and order and  

“People agree that there should be the rule of law and we should have orderly conduct in civil society. At the same time they generally believe that black lives do matter. So, it’s a sense that yes there is a problem in society, but we should bond together to be able to get through that,” Bryson said. “When we polled the slogan defund the police, that was overwhelmingly unfavorable across every demographic. So, that’s not a course that people seem to want to take.” 

Other races 

The poll also found a tight matchup in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R) and challenger Cal Cunningham (D). Cunningham leads Tillis 41-38. 

However, in the gubernatorial race, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) leads 49-39 over Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R).  “If there is a state of crisis or some sort of state of emergency and the governor is consistently on television and gets that public exposure over and over again, then the approval ratings tend to go up,” Bryson said. “Dan Forest has been insistent for several years now that he would not run any negative ads when he runs for governor, and I think that’s an admirable quality. At the same time, there’s a difference between negative and being comparative. And, it’s difficult to win a race against a sitting governor or an incumbent in any position that you’re running for without being comparative in nature. You have to talk about the other person’s record otherwise why would people think that you’re impending record might be better than what they’ve seen before?”


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