RALEIGH – President Donald Trump certainly didn’t anticipate operating a reelection campaign while also navigating the country through a pandemic panic, but, even without a rip-roaring economy, Trump’s approval numbers have been rising. When judged against his (possible) 2020 opponent Joe Biden, new polling from East Carolina University shows Trump leading in the important 2020 swing state.
ECU surveyed North Carolinians about the big statewide races: president, governor, senate. While the tightness in presidential and senate races is to be expected, the result that sticks out is in the governor’s race.
“With roughly six months to go until the November general election, the latest ECU poll shows President Donald Trump with a slight lead of three percentage points over former Vice President Joe Biden among registered voters in North Carolina (46% to 43%). In the race for governor, Democratic incumbent Roy Cooper holds a comfortable 15-point lead over Republican challenger Dan Forest (51% to 36%). The race for United States Senate is a virtual tie, with Republican incumbent Thom Tillis leading Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham 41% to 40%. […]”
The lead for Governor Cooper is definitely outside the margin of error, but probably not indicative the battle in November. For one, Cooper has been on TV incessantly during the pandemic lockdown, explaining to citizens why he unilaterally shutdown their lives, but also giving a large swath of low-information voters the sense that he’s doing a good job. That tends to happen during disaster responses, but this disaster is unique — it’s completely self-inflicted.
Forest, as lieutenant governor, is not nearly as visible. It would make sense for a sittng governor to have incumbency advantages reflected in early polling results. However, the Forest campaign would certainly rather see numbers indicative of the tight race they expect in November. The closer to election day we get, the more money that pours into media ads, the more ground Forest will cover. He also has an advantage; Trump.
This polls shows Trump leading barely, but his focus on North Carolina will likely not decrease until after the election. The 2020 RNC, of course, is to be held in Charlotte in August, at which Trump will draw the attention of the state and nation. Standing right beside him will be Dan Forest.
U.S. Senator Thom Tillis is hoping he gets the same wind at his back. Even though he has an endorsement from the president, a big war chest, and all the advantages of an establishment Republican, Tillis is still on the ropes versus his Democratic opponent.
It’s been several weeks since poll results held anyone’s attention (global pandemic and all), but as we emerge from lockdown pandemic panic we’ll be seeing more and more. And they’ll all be fluid all the way up until election day, so take these results with the same grains of salt that showed Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.
Read more about the ECU poll results here.