Trump, Tillis Losing Ground in NC, New Poll Finds

In this March 2, 2020, file photo Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., speaks during a campaign rally for President Donald Trump in Charlotte, N.C. State election officials certified the election results Tuesday, sealing Trump and Tillis' victories in the divided state. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn, File)

By patmoran

July 3, 2020

Polling indicates voters broadly disapprove of GOP officials’ handling of the coronavirus.

North Carolina, which Donald Trump won by four points in 2016, is pulling farther away from the president and his party, a new poll indicates. 

Not only has Democratic nominee Joe Biden widened his lead over Trump in the past two weeks to 7 points, incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis is also trailing his Democratic challenger, former state Senator Cal Cunningham. A defeat for Tillis would put the GOP’s control of the US Senate in jeopardy.

The poll, conducted by CNBC/Change Research, sampled 3,739 likely voters from June 26-28 across six competitive battleground states and compared its findings to national results. North Carolina is one of the sampled states, along with Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

In North Carolina, Biden’s surge marks a five-point increase over a similar polling period from June 12-14. (A Real Clear Politics average of six recent polls finds Biden leading the president in North Carolina by three points.)

Trump trails in all six states sampled, with Biden winning more than half the vote in all the states except Michigan.

The shift in Change Research’s findings reflects the president’s plummeting job ratings, which stand at about 46% approval in the six sampled battlegrounds.

Poll numbers also indicate that if the election was held today, it would be a referendum on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Only 43% of battleground voters approve of his actions to contain the pandemic. Sixty-eight percent of North Carolina respondents said their concerns about COVID-19 were serious, with 50% reporting very serious concerns.

In the six battleground states, the president is increasingly being held accountable for those concerns. Donald Trump is declared most to blame for the virus’ spread, topping a list that includes “states reopening too soon,” “people not wearing masks,” “people not social distancing,” “medical researchers,” “businesses failing to take precautions” and “China.”

Furthermore, even more voters believe Trump’s actions have contributed to the recent COVID-19 surge. Fifty-five percent of battleground voters agree that “Donald Trump is pushing states to reopen their economies too quickly in order to boost his own re-election chances.” Fifty-eight percent agree that “Donald Trump is putting people’s lives at risk by hosting indoor campaign rallies.” And 57% disagree that “Donald Trump is…providing accurate information about proper COVID-19 precautions.”

In contrast, a majority of North Carolinian respondents supported Gov. Roy Cooper’s coronavirus policies, despite rising infections since the Cooper administration began easing social distancing restrictions in May. Fifty-five percent approve of Cooper’s actions, with 35% strongly approving.

This is in line with findings in the other five battleground states, where voters approve of actions by Democratic governors including Wisconsin’s Tony Evers, Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer. Only Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Arizona’s Doug Ducey are underwater in their approval ratings.

The poll’s findings also indicate that the inadequate response of Trump and Republicans to COVID-19 is hurting the GOP’s chances of holding onto the US Senate.

Although a Real Clear Politics average of recent polls shows Cunningham leading Tillis in North Carolina by only three points, the CNBC/Change Research poll shows Cunningham holding a 51% to 41% advantage over the incumbent Republican Senator.

North Carolina is one of five states where the Democrats stand a decent chance of turning a red Senate seat blue. The others are Arizona, Montana, Maine, Iowa and Colorado, CNBC reports. If Biden wins the White House, his ability to push his agenda through Congress will depend upon Democratic control of the Senate.

In 2008, Barack Obama won the Tar Heel State’s 15 electoral votes, the first Democrat to do so since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Given his standing in recent polls Biden could be the third Democrat since the 1970s to sweep the state.

Polls have been misleading before, as the 2016 presidential results attest, and election day is still more than four months away – an eternity in American politics. If trends continue, however, the North Carolina battleground could turn into a GOP rout.


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