Polls in North Carolina continue to look bleak for Republicans. Donald Trump is certainly a drag on the party, but the GOP needs to examine their priorities in relation to the voters. If they were as concerned about the fate of people being exposed to the coronavirus as they are about Confederate statues, they might be faring a little better. 

Three polls came out this week showing Donald Trump trailing Joe Biden and Thom Tillis behind Cal Cunningham. In the New York Times poll, Trump is down a staggering nine points, 49-40. A Fox News poll has him down two, 47-45, the same margin as PPP’s 48-46 numbers. Fox has Cunningham up by two, NYT has him leading by three and PPP has him up by four. In addition, NYT has Governor Roy Cooper leading Dan Forest by 11 and PPP has him up by nine. The NYT found his job approval rating highly favorable with 57% approving and 37% disapproving.

The political environment is terrible for Republicans, but they aren’t helping themselves. If not for uneducated white voters in rural areas, the party would be in full collapse. Donald Trump is in single digits with African Americans and only garners 11% with other non-white voters, according to Fox. He trails Biden by more than 20% among voters with a college degree, according the to the NYT, and even trails whites with a college degree by seven according to Fox. Trump is losing suburban voters by 21% and urban ones by 36%.

Instead of trying to woo those suburban or educated voters, Republicans are doubling down on their base. Dan Forest announced he’s suing Governor Cooper over his efforts to contain the coronavirus. Social media was on fire with Republicans burning up the governor for allowing the toppling of Confederate monuments despite them coming down all over the country. ReOpenNC, the GOP led movement to fully open all businesses in the state, shared a video of one of their leaders burning a box of masks, declaring wearing one infringes upon her freedom. When Cooper ordered masks be worn in stores, Republican legislators loudly declared they wouldn’t do it. 

The polls, though, show Republicans are getting firmly on the wrong side of the voters. They overwhelmingly approve of the job Cooper is doing handling the virus. They are far more concerned about the spread of the virus than the protesters pulling down monuments. PPP shows that 64% of North Carolinians believe masks should be worn indoors. Fifty-six percent believe we should be very cautious in opening as opposed to only 25% who think we should reopen fully. A solid plurality of 47% think the worst is yet to come. According to the NYT poll, 54% of the people are more concerned with the spread of the virus than the impact on the economy. 

People in North Carolina are also more concerned about race relations than riots. By a margin of 21%, voters think the way African Americans are treated by the justice system is a bigger problem than the riots that ensued in the wake of George Floyd’s death. In addition, a majority believe the systemic racism is a problem in our country. By a margin of 30 points, people think the George Floyd incident is symptom of a larger problem and not an isolated incident. A majority of North Carolinians say they support the demonstrators. 

The political environment for Republicans continues to deteriorate, but they aren’t helping themselves. While they cannot control Donald Trump’s childish antics, they could listen to the voters instead of trying score unpopular political points. Dan Forest is suing the Governor to try to force him to reopen the state. That’s not a popular position. We’ve heard little about Republicans’ concern over injustices in our criminal justice system, but we’ve heard a lot of outrage about demonstrations with broad support and monuments that most people don’t care about anymore. 

Republicans seem to be betting that people will eventually be more concerned about the economy than the virus. That’s quite a gamble given what’s happening in the country. While cases were once confined primarily to more urban areas, rural counties are seeing them increase rapidly. Those are also heavily Republican areas where a lot of anti-mask, reOpenNC Republicans reside. Most epidemiologists think we are about to see an explosion of cases while Europe seems to have gotten their situation mostly under control, at least for now. Maybe, as Trump keeps telling us and as Republicans seem to believe, the virus is about to just disappear and the economy will be a greater concern to voters by November. If that happens, the GOP will have played their cards well and Democrats will probably suffer in the election, but it sure doesn’t look like a good bet right now. 

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