A new poll is out with more good news for Democrats. The Blueprint Strategies poll shows Cheri Beasley leading Ted Budd by four points, 46-42. It’s only one poll but it’s the first public poll since Democrats’ legislative successes and the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The poll shows that abortion could be the wedge issue Democrats need in the run up to November.

Beasley’s lead is anchored by 74% support among African American voters. She will almost certainly further consolidate that vote as the election gets closer. She also leads among self-identified independents by about 12 percent. Finally, she gets almost 40% of the White voters. Historically, a Democrat needs about 33% of the White vote to win in North Carolina, so she’s got room with that population. All of that is very good news for Democrats. 

In addition, only 18% of the voters think the state should make abortion illegal, though 41% believe the state should be able to regulate the procedure. Another 42% believe it should be legal under any circumstances. Those numbers offer Democrats an opportunity to drive a wedge between the GOP that’s been calling for abortion bans across the nation and the mainstream North Carolinians who believe in a woman’s right to choose.

All of that said, voters also prefer Donald Trump to Joe Biden in a hypothetical match up. Biden trails Trump by six percent, 45-39, driven by the former president’s consolidation of Republican voters. More than 90% of GOP voters say they will vote for Trump while only 82% of Democrats support Biden. Trump leads with non-college voters by 17% while Biden garners under 33% of the White voters.  

It’s one poll and is somewhat at odds with polls conducted earlier in the summer. That said, it could reflect what has happened both nationally and within the campaigns of Beasley and Budd. The political environment has improved dramatically over that past three months for Democrats, fueled by an improving economy, lower gas prices, legislative victories, and January 6 revelations. If this trend continues into the fall, these factors could mute Republican victories in what should be a good GOP year.

The poll could also show that Beasley’s hard work is paying off. As Kirk Ross of Policy Watch noted, Beasley has hit the road with visits to communities across the state. Beasley calls it her “Standing up for North Carolina” tour, but Ross dubs it a “go everywhere strategy.” She’s touching voters that have often felt ignored by statewide campaigns in recent years. The results could be showing up in the poll, especially among the independent voters. 

Finally, Beasley has been on television all summer while Budd has not. In particular, she’s held him accountable for voting against making insulin more affordable. When it came up in the budget debate last week, her argument got unexpected, but welcome, third party validation that amplified her message.

This poll could be an outlier, but it should also be a signal. Even if it’s off by a bit, the Senate race in North Carolina is competitive. National Democrats need to turn their attention to Beasley and watch what she’s doing and saying. She’s picked up her attacks on Budd and is beginning to define herself in minds of voters just as the campaign season is kicking off in earnest. The state should once again have a front row seat in the fight to control the U.S. Senate.  

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