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NC Appears to Be Leaning R in Crucial Senate Race Between Budd, Beasley

November 8, 2022 by Natalie McCormick
NC Appears to Be Leaning R in Crucial Senate Race Between Budd, Beasley
Ted Budd, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from North Carolina, looks on Sept. 23, 2022 ,in Wilmington, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward, File)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — As Election Day dawned in the Tar Heel State, one of the most reliable polls shows Republican Rep. Ted Budd leading Democrat Cheri Beasley by 6 percentage points with few undecided voters left for the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court to make up much ground.

The latest East Carolina University poll on the crucial midterm contest, conducted Nov. 1-3, shows Budd garnering the support of 52% of likely voters, while Beasley has the support of 46%.

The trouble for Beasley, if those numbers are correct, is that just 1% of poll respondents indicated they’d yet to settle on a candidate, while the remaining 1% expressed support for another candidate.  

While North Carolina is considered a perennial battleground state, the reality is a Democrat has not been elected to the Senate by the state’s voters in over a decade.

Marc Hetherington, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, prefers to call North Carolina a “close state” rather than a “swing state,” because of this history. 

“In any close race, a high-quality candidate, and Cheri Beasley is a high-quality candidate, has a chance to win,” Hetherington said. 

FILE – Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley on Aug. 29, 2022, in Durham, N.C. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum, File)

“The problem is overcoming the headwinds the party in power is facing right now. Even with all the money the Democrats poured into this race, Beasley has just had a harder time appealing to voters,” he said.

During early voting, members of the University of North Carolina’s Young Democrats club sat outside the voting center answering any and all questions voters posed before walking into the polls. 

“It’s definitely a make-or-break midterm right now,” said Mary Margaret Barbee, a member of the Young Dems chapter.

“Abortion is quite literally on the ballot and the future of abortion in this country is being voted on right now,” she said.

“Especially in a state like North Carolina, where it could go one way or the other, it is just so important to get people out to vote because it is quite literally one of the most important issues,” Barbee added. 

Hetherington thinks that while abortion could still have an impact on younger voters, others might not feel as strongly about the topic as they did in June. 

Timothy Ryan is also a political science professor at UNC. 

“Democrats have reason to be concerned about the future of abortion policy in the state of North Carolina. Currently, there is a Democratic governor and the Republicans don’t have the votes to override his veto of anything going through the Legislature, but that could all change today,” Ryan said. 

Since September, Budd has tied or led Beasley by a small margin in the polls but in the last couple of weeks his potential margin of victory has grown.

When pollsters with East Carolina University asked voters what they saw as the most important issues in the U.S. Senate race here, 39% of likely voters pointed to the economy, 18% said abortion, and 15% mentioned inflation.

The poll also looked at the respective candidates’ support from a regional perspective.

The results showed that Budd’s advantage over Beasley is strongest in the western part of the state (64% to 34%) and in the eastern part of the state (59% to 39%). 

Budd leads in the Piedmont/Central region (57% to 41%), while Beasley holds a lead in the Raleigh/Durham area (62% to 35%) as well as the Charlotte area (53% to 44%).

This East Carolina University poll gathered the opinions of 1,183 likely voters in North Carolina. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points.  

Natalie can be reached at natalie@thewellnews.com and @nataliemcc212

  • East Carolina University Poll
  • midterm elections
  • North Carolina
  • Ted Budd
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