RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina’s race for U.S. Senate is tied, according to a new Civitas poll released this week by the conservative John Locke Foundation.
The organization’s latest survey finds Republican Ted Budd and Cheri Beasley both have the exact same level of support from likely voters — 42.3 percent.
“When you go from the last Civitas poll to this Civitas poll, Ted Budd’s lead is gone,” said Mitch Kokai, senior political analyst at the John Locke Foundation. “I think it certainly points to a red wave being much less of a wave than previous polls have.”
The poll also shows 12.6 percent of voters are undecided. Additionally, 1.9 percent support Libertarian Shannon Bray while 0.8 percent support Green Party candidate Matthew Hoh.
The Senate race has tightened even as 56 percent of North Carolina voters disapprove of President Joe Biden’s performance.
“It shows that there’s may be less of a tie-in between who’s the president and which party you want to control Congress than maybe there has been in the past,” said Kokai.
The shift in the race also comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“I think Democrats have gotten energized perhaps maybe earlier than they would have otherwise,” said Kokai. “I think one thing that the generic ballot information shows that’s important for the Senate race is that Ted Budd is running behind a generic Republican. Cheri Beasley is running ahead of a generic Democrat.”
Beasley has led Budd in fund raising, allowing her to run ads on TV throughout the summer since the primary election back in May.
Budd began running his first ad of the general election season last week, which is focused on inflation.
“We’ve seen some trends moving in this direction with Democratic candidates not only in North Carolina but elsewhere doing better,” said David McLennan, an expert on state politics at Meredith College. “I think it’s a number of things that could be moving in Beasley’s favor. But, I think it starts with [the Supreme Court abortion ruling].”
Nationally, there’s been significantly more focus on Senate races in other states, such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia and Arizona.
That was underscored on Friday by a column the Los Angeles Times published describing North Carolina’s race as “little-known” and arguing “it could make a big difference for Democrats.”
It’s a significant shift from the Senate race in 2020 between Democrat Cal Cunningham and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, which was the most expensive in state history. According to Open Secrets, just over $300 million was spent on that race.
“We haven’t seen a lot of attention from the national parties. We have started to see a little more attention from the Republicans now. And, I suspect the Democrats will look toward North Carolina and put more resources, money and people into the state if they think this trend is going to continue,” said McLennan. “A poll next month that shows the same thing, that’s going to open Democrats’ eyes. They’re just playing defense in so many areas.”
Politico reported this week that the National Republican Senatorial Committee cut ad spending in some battleground states as the party’s candidates have struggled to raise money on their own, leading the group to shift its money around and change its spending plan.
“If the trends keep moving in this direction, you might see the Budd campaign pick up the pace,” said McLennan. “August is a very important time in the fall campaign. To have it be so close now really shows that predictions about a Republican wave may be up in the air right now.”