Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is David Bass.
A new poll from East Carolina University of likely general election voters gives Republican Ted Budd a 50% to 44% edge over Democrat Cheri Beasley. The latest poll on North Carolina's critical U.S. Senate race this year also shows that 5% of the electorate remains undecided three weeks out from the election.
The results show momentum in Budd's direction compared to other recent polling. A Civitas poll from September showed the race a statistical dead heat - 44% support for each candidate. A WRAL poll released around the same time gave Budd a 43% to 42% advantage over Beasley.
"Although it is still competitive, Ted Budd is the favorite to win North Carolina's U.S. Senate election based on our latest poll numbers,"
said Dr. Peter Francia, director of the ECU Center for Survey Research.
A crucial shift in the electorate appears to be developing among female voters. In early September, Beasley topped Budd among this electorate 52% to 41%, but the new polling shows that margin has shrunk to 48% to 46%.
That shift reflects a growing national trend as well. A recent New York Times article noted a seismic change in the generic ballot among female voters - from favoring Democrats by 14 percentage points in September to now backing Republicans by 18 percentage points. The results showed that the economy remains top-of-mind for voters, despite intense campaigning from Democrats to excite their base on issues ranging from abortion to the January 6th riots.
Jim Stirling, research fellow at the John Locke Foundation, cautioned that the ECU results should be taken with a grain of salt until future polls confirm the trendline.
"That being said, both Democrat and Republican national pollsters alike have expressed the decreasing motivation of Democratic voters. Coupling that with Budd consistently leading in the eastern part of the state could mean he runs away with this election,"
The ECU poll broke down the results amongst components of the electorate. Budd maintains an advantage among men - 54% to 39% - and working-class white voters - 72% to 22%, while Beasley has the edge among young voters - 48% to 42% - and holds down a sizeable lead among black voters - 83% to 11%.
Asked which party they would support on a generic ballot for congressional races, 49% said Republican and 44% Democrat. This trendline is also favoring the GOP after a summer slump. In addition, President Joe Biden's approval rating is slumping after a brief uptick, now down to 38% from 44% in early September.
The ECU poll was conducted Oct. 10-13 with a sample of 902 likely voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8%.