Another poll shows Republicans in trouble in North Carolina. It’s just the latest that shows Democrats with a lead in every top-of-the-ticket race in the state. This poll by Daily Kos is an online survey. While polling at this stage in the election cycle is not predictive of November, the consistency of the results highlights the problems Republicans face. 

The poll shows Joe Biden leading by three, Cal Cunningham by nine and Roy Cooper by nine. Both Cooper and Cunningham are over 50% and Biden is at 49%. If these numbers hold into the summer, expect the GOP to start an intensely negative campaign. Their only path to victory will be to drive up the negatives of Democrats so they can get into striking distance in the fall. 

Republicans face daunting hurdles, though. In a presidential year, the party in the White House thrives or suffers depending on the state of the nation. Right now, the nation is in dire straits. Even the best of presidents would have a difficult time running for re-election in the midst of a global pandemic and 30 million unemployed Americans. And clearly, Donald Trump is in way over his head. 

The administration botched the early response and has done little to fix it. Instead, Republicans are focusing more on the economic fallout than the health threat. The Trump-supported Re-Open movement is calling for states to let businesses operate mostly unrestricted. The GOP clearly believes they need to get the economy moving more than they need to protect people from the virus. They are trying desperately to shift blame onto governors who are following the advice of public health officials more than business leaders.

Public health professionals say reopening could cause a second wave of infections and deaths that is worse than the first. Even without the a full re-opening of the economy, 150,000 or so people will likely be dead by election day. With approximately 2,500 people dying each day, the number could be much, much higher. 

Because of the botched response to the virus and the resistance to allowing the government to prop up families, Republicans have offered themselves a Sophie’s Choice situation. They’ve chosen the economy over the people who will die if states re-open too early. They are banking that jobs and income are more likely to improve people’s outlook than restricting economic activity to protect people from the virus. 

The polls in North Carolina are likely accurate. Republicans are heading into a very difficult political environment. They will likely need to try to separate themselves from the president in the coming months but that’s hard when the president insists on inserting himself into every conversation. Thom Tillis will have an especially difficult time putting daylight between himself and the White House after spending a year wrapping himself around Trump. In contrast, Cooper is getting solid reviews for his handling of the crisis. While we still have six months to go and a lot can change, Democrats are poised to have a good year while Republicans are poised for a lot of heartache. 

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