RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – New polling released Thursday shows about half of Republican primary voters are still undecided about who they’ll support in this year’s U.S. Senate race, though former Gov. Pat McCrory leads other candidates in the race.
The Civitas poll shows 24 percent of primary voters backing McCrory, compared to 19 percent for U.S. Rep. Ted Budd and 7 percent for former U.S. Rep Mark Walker. About 49 percent of voters are still undecided. Marjorie Eastman and Kenneth Bishop both polled at just under 1 percent.
To view the poll results, click here.
Last June former President Donald Trump announced his endorsement of Budd.
Mitch Kokai, senior political analyst at the conservative John Locke Foundation, said, “Perhaps shows that (Budd) has a communications problem about yes I’m the Trump endorsement, please go along with me. And, I think that’s something he’s really going to have to work on in the weeks ahead.”
Club for Growth PAC is spending about $10 million on advertisements that have gone after McCrory and tried to highlight Trump’s endorsement of Budd.
“About half of the electorate is still undecided, so this one is I think anybody’s ball game,” said Chris Cooper, a political scientist at Western Carolina University. “This poll was not great news for any candidate but it was probably the worst news for Mark Walker of any of the candidates in the top three in the poll.”
Walker has said he’s considering whether to stay in the Senate race or run for a seat in the U.S. House instead.
The Congressional districts Republicans drew in the fall would afford Walker the opportunity to run in one of the GOP-favored districts. However, those districts are subject to litigation and could be redrawn.
“If you do eliminate Mark Walker from the equation and make it basically a one-on-one contest between McCrory and Budd, the Walker voters jump to Budd by almost a three-to-one margin,” Kokai said, adding that the race would be a statistical tie.
The McCrory campaign released results from its own poll on Wednesday showing him leading Budd 30-21.
“About 50 percent of Republican primary voters, likely primary voters, said they would support whoever Donald Trump endorsed. That has not yet translated into them saying, I’m gonna vote for Ted Budd,” said Kokai.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the group Restore Common Sense Inc is spending about $1.2 million on digital media, billboards and radio ads to try to promote Marjorie Eastman, who is a military veteran who lives in Cary.
The pollsters also looked at what issues GOP primary voters said should be the top priority for the U.S. Senate. Their top three are: securing the border, election integrity and combatting inflation. Ending the COVID-19 pandemic is seventh on the list.
Former President Trump remains popular among Republican voters as well, being their top choice to be the party’s nominee for president in 2024. About 47 percent of these voters said they’d choose him if they had to vote today. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came in second with 19 percent.
“Another sort of takeaway from this poll in general is this is still Donald Trump’s party. His net favorability amongst Republican voters is through the roof,” said Cooper. “The MAGA, Donald Trump wing of the Republican Party appears to be the one, at least reflected in this poll, that appears to be carrying the day.”
Only about one in five GOP primary voters said they believed this year’s general election would be “free and fair” while nearly half of them said they don’t believe it will be. The rest were unsure.
“We’ve certainly seen a slow erosion of trust in elections. And, we have seen that slow erosion sort of pick up pace with Donald Trump and with all the conversations about the big lie over the last year. So, pretty clearly we have a real trust-in-institutions, and trust-in-elections problem,” said Cooper.