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1. NC Senate poll: Trump-backed Budd has double digital lead

GREENSBORO, NC (WGHP) – With exactly six weeks before the day of North Carolina’s primary election, Rep. Ted Budd has taken firm control in the race for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.

A CBS 17/The Hill/Emerson College poll, the first bipartisan poll conducted in this race, found that Budd, an Advance resident who represents the current 13th congressional district, on May 17 lost the support of 38 percent of likely voters has and would be favored in a head-to-head vote against likely Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley in November.

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Budd’s lead in the Republican primary is a surprising 16 percentage points over former Gov. Pat McCrory (22 percent), while former Greensboro Rep. Mark Walker is third with about 9 percent. About 8 percent preferred one of the other candidates — led by Cary’s Marjorie Eastman and Cleveland’s Benjamin Griffiths with 1.4 percent — and nearly 1 in 4 (23 percent) said they were undecided.

The poll focused on the 14 Republicans seeking to succeed Winston-Salem Republican Republican Richard Burr, and it’s clear that Budd appears to have crossed the 30 percent-plus-one threshold needed to do so to avoid a runoff that might have been expected in such a crowded field.

“Ted Budd’s position in the Republican primary is strong,” Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College Polling, said in a Zoom interview. “I thought it would be more competitive with McCrory. It really comes down to two candidates.”

The Trump Factor

Budd has an aggressive media campaign funded in part by millions of dollars in dues from the Club for Growth, a conservative PAC whose dollars have helped him defeating 16 Republicans in his first bid for Congress in 2016, but he has also benefited significantly from the approval of former President Donald Trump, which seems important to voters.

Among Republicans who took part in the poll, 59 percent said Trump’s support makes them more likely to vote for a candidate. Just 13 percent said Trump’s approval made them less likely to vote for his choice, but 27 percent said it wouldn’t make a difference.

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Former President Donald Trump (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“At this point, that endorsement carries a lot of weight,” Kimball said. “Of those who say it’s important, 43 percent break for Budd. Those who said [the endorsement makes them] less likely, 58 percent will leave for McCrory.”

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He also said that 50 percent of undecided voters would be more likely to vote for Budd because of Trump’s support.

“We’ve seen that in every state [that Emerson polls]’ Kimball said. “Georgia hasn’t come out yet, but it was the only state where its influence was below 50 percent. The jury has yet to see how effective the support will be when this election comes to fruition.”

Kimball said he’s surprised Eastman, a retired combat veteran in her first campaign who reported more contributions than Walker in the fourth quarter of 2021, didn’t do better.

“She’s not in the top league. That’s surprising given the money and their notoriety,” he said. “But there are only so many votes you can get. Budd wins the conservative vote and McCrory wins the moderate vote. There is not much of an electorate to pick them up.”

Race against Beasley

Because Beasley, a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, is the almost certain candidate among 11 Democrats now that state senator Jeff Jackson is running for Congress, the poll didn’t ask about her competitors.

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Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley

But in neck-and-neck races between the Republican candidates and Beasley, it was clear that Budd and Walker would be favored to beat Beasley.

The poll found that Budd would receive 50 percent of the vote against Beasley, with 43 percent in favor of Beasley and 8 percent undecided. Walker would have a 47-42 percent advantage with an 11 percent tie.

Even Eastman would find himself in a virtual dead heat in any poll with a 44 percent tie and a 12.3 percent tie. But Beasley would have a slight advantage over McCrory (43 percent vs. 41 percent, tied with 16 percent).

“Beasley is in a tough race in North Carolina,” said Kimball. “I don’t think she’ll be shocked when she sees where she is right now. Republicans are in a primary. Your message gets through. She’s not really in an elementary school.”

He said because many of Beasley’s supporters are young voters who are difficult to motivate in midterm elections, polls could deter them and harm their campaign going forward by dampening excitement around them.

How that was done

Candidates have touted polls in recent months that have helped observers stall the race, but all of these have been internal polls or conducted by organizations with affinities with a particular campaign or cause. The CBS 17/The Hill/Emerson College poll polled 1,047 registered voters in North Carolina for the general election and 508 for the Republican primary with a confidence interval (similar to an error rate) of +/- 3 percentage points.

This poll, conducted April 2-4, asked a variety of questions about the upcoming election and the state of the nation, and 77.2 percent of respondents said they were very likely to vote. They self-identified as 40.3 percent Republican, 35.7 percent Democrat and 24 percent independent.

Respondents were predominantly white and at least 50 years old and slightly more female (51 percent), with 44 percent having at least a bachelor’s degree and 39 percent living in suburban areas.

https://www.cbs17.com/news/1st-nc-senate-poll-trump-endorsed-budd-holds-double-digital-lead/ 1. NC Senate poll: Trump-backed Budd has double digital lead

DUSTIN JONES

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