RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Now that we know who will be on the fall ballot, the race for North Carolina’s open U.S. Senate seat is getting much tighter.
Republican Ted Budd is leading democrat Cheri Beasley by less than two percentage points. The Civitas Poll conducted in partnership with the conservative John Locke Foundation is the first poll conducted after the May 17th primary.
The current congressman and the former State Supreme Court Chief Justice are competing to fill the seat currently held by Republican Richard Burr, who is retiring.
Among those polled, 43.6 percent said they would vote for Rep. Budd while 41.8 percent said they would vote for Cheri Beasley.
The 1.8 percent difference leaves them within the +/- 3.9% margin of error. 1.9 percent of those polled said they would vote for Libertarian Shannon Bray and 0.7 percent said they would vote for Green Party candidate Matthew Hoh.
Chris Cooper, a political scientist at Western Carolina University said, “We knew this was going to be a tight race, we knew this was going to be watched across the country but I mean this really puts it neck-and-neck, within the margin of error. Anybody’s ballgame.”
Mid-terms are always an uphill battle for the party in power. But Donald Bryson, president of the John Locke Foundation said this will likely give Beasley and democrats more confidence.
“If I’m Ted Budd, I’m scratching my head wondering why I’m up higher in other polls and not in this one. If I’m Cheri Beasley, maybe I’m thinking I’m within striking distance and this won’t be as hard as I thought it was going to be.”
Much of what a voter decides depends on pocketbook issues like 401ks and the price of gas. Not a good thing right now for democrats. But there are also other issues that could go in their favor.
“At the same time we don’t know what effect any decision on Roe v Wade or the Dobbs decision would have on politics and so it could be we get to August September and both sides are really motivated to get out,” said Bryson.
For many voters, it may not matter who is on the ballot, just which party they want to control congress. Up to now, the North Carolina senate race has been a bit unconventional. Cooper said it may stay that way.
After all, it’s worked so far for both Beasley and Budd.
“They don’t know a lot about Cheri Beasley. they don’t know a lot about Ted Budd. Neither one has done any debating. These are not household names, so the fact that the poll puts the party right before the candidates’ name I think is critical because that is how people are going to be thinking about this election, at least at this early stage,” said Cooper.
STATE LEGISLATURE, STATE SUPREME COURT SEATS LEANING REPUBLICAN
As for the state legislature, 48.5 percent of those polled said they would definitely or probably vote for the Republican candidate while 42.8 percent said they would definitely or probably vote for the Democratic candidate.
North Carolina state house and senate seats were recently redrawn as required by law after new census data was collected and released. All of those seats are on the ballot.
Two state Supreme Court seats are up for election this year as well.
Of those polled, 43.6 percent said they would vote for republican Richard Dietz and 40.3 percent said they would vote for democrat Lucy Inman.
For the second seat, 46.1 percent said they would vote for republican Trey Allen while 39.5% said they would vote for democrat Sam J. Irvin IV.
APPROVAL RATINGS DOWN FOR BOTH BIDEN AND COOPER
The Civitas poll also has President Joe Biden’s approval rating at 33.3 percent, which is lower than polling in January 2022 and April 2022. Governor Cooper’s approval rating sits at 41.7% which is also lower than previous polling.
ON THE ISSUES: ABORTION AND GUN LEGISLATION
Voters were also asked about their views on abortion. 46.2 percent said it should be legal nationwide, 25.2 percent said the states should decide, 20.3 percent said abortion should be illegal nationwide and 8.2 percent were unsure.
When asked about gun legislation, 42.3 percent said it should be more restrictive, 33.8 percent said it should stay about the same and 18.9 percent said more restrictive.