Public Policy Polling is out with another poll that shows a tough political environment for Republicans. Joe Biden leads Trump by one point, but Cal Cunningham leads Thom Tillis by seven and Roy Coopers is up 14 over Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest. With seven months to go, plenty could change but for now Democrats in North Carolina have an advantage in the evenly divided state.
Biden should feel good about being even with Trump in North Carolina but he’s still got problems. His favorability rating is lower than the president’s despite his lead. Trump’s favorability rating is upside down by five points, 45 favorable, 50 unfavorable while Biden is underwater by eleven points, 39-50. Still, Biden is far more popular now in the state than Hillary Clinton was at a similar time in the race in 2016.
Biden is suffering somewhat from lingering primary dynamics. He will need to consolidate his party support and improve his standing with women. Eleven percent of Democrats say they will vote for Trump and four percent are undecided. In addition, 17% of Democrats have an unfavorable view of him, especially women, who view him unfavorably and only give him a six point margin over Trump. Some of that support will move naturally toward Biden as the sting of the primary fades and he can shore up his support with women if he chooses a woman as a running mate like he’s promised.
Cooper right now enjoys broad favorability ratings and leads Forest among both men and women. He’s clearly benefiting from his handling of the coronavirus. Forest, meanwhile, is less defined than the governor. Still, the lieutenant governor will need to close the huge gap with women who favor Cooper by 18 points.
Cunningham’s numbers reflect Cooper’s to some degree. He leads among both men and women, just by narrower margins. Women prefer him to Tillis by 12 points, men by two points. While the poll doesn’t test favorability ratings for the Senate candidates, Tillis has struggled his entire tenure to boost his approval ratings. Cunningham is surely benefitting from that. For a challenger, Cunningham is in a very strong position.
In addition to his polling numbers, Cunningham posted very impressive fundraising numbers this week that more than doubled the incumbent’s quarterly take. Cunningham raised a staggering $4.4 million to Tillis’ $2.1 million in the first quarter of 2020. Cunningham joined a host of other Democratic Senate challengers who outraised their incumbent Republican opponents.
Finally, the poll shows that independents are siding with Democrats so far this cycle. They favor Biden by four points and Cooper and Cunningham by 17 each. If that trend holds through the fall, 2020 should be a very good year for Democrats.