With Coronavirus Shaping the Election, Biden, Cunningham and Cooper Open up Leads

With North Carolinians backing robust coronavirus policies, Biden, Cunningham, and Cooper opening up leads. (Graphic via Shutterstock)

By Billy Ball

July 27, 2020

Strong coronavirus policies enjoy broad support from NC voters, including social distancing, unemployment relief and economic support.

With NC voters by and large favoring robust coronavirus policies, the state is leaning toward Joe Biden, Cal Cunningham and Roy Cooper in this fall’s election, a new NBC News/Marist poll indicates. 

The poll confirms months of surveys suggesting the majority of North Carolinians support social distancing and strong coronavirus policies, at a time when the state is struggling to contain the dangerous virus.

According to the new poll taken July 14-22, Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, has opened up a seven-point lead over President Trump, one of the larger advantages either candidate has held.

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And while election polling has been particularly volatile in recent years in this swing state, the virus appears to be taking its toll on incumbents and President Trump, who’s been besieged with criticism for his inconsistent messages on the virus, delayed reactions, and lack of overarching planning.

Trump has offered his own plan for reopening, but he also dismissed the virus as a serious concern for months. He initially urged states to reopen more quickly, but in recent weeks, with the virus expanding rapidly in many states such as NC, officials in his administration are blaming state leaders for reopening too quickly

Graphic for Cardinal & Pine by Tania Lili

Trump has also moved in recent days to seemingly limit access to federal data on the virus, which has killed 146,968 Americans and infected 4.2 million, both far more than any other country in the world.

Biden has been highlighting plans to make testing more available, offer emergency paid leave for displaced workers, and in North Carolina, boost funding for childcare and caregivers, both considered keys for a recovering economy.   

Meanwhile, Cunningham, a Democrat, holds a nine-point lead over the GOP US Senate incumbent Thom Tillis, also one of the largest leads for either.

Tillis has been considerably more cautious about the virus than Trump, but the senator has also been criticized for his skepticism of federal unemployment relief during the pandemic. He’s also been a frequent target for healthcare advocates because he’s voted numerous times to nix the Affordable Care Act, the nation’s broad healthcare law. 

Cunningham has been calling for the Senate and Congress to take action on another coronavirus bill, currently being debated in DC, with state and local governments requesting more funding for unemployment.  

Cooper, meanwhile, has also opened up a large lead over his opponent, the state’s Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. Forest has been bitingly critical of Cooper’s coronavirus policies, which have enjoyed broad support from North Carolinians. 

Click here for the full NBC News/Marist poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points.


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.

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