A poll released yesterday indicates that the scandal Republicans hoped would sink Cal Cunningham has had little impact on the race. In fact, Cunningham’s margin over Tillis increased by a few points over the past month. The WRAL/Survey USA poll conducted since the scandal broke shows Cunningham leading Tillis by ten points, 49-39. In September, the poll showed Cunningham leading by seven, 47-40. Clearly, voters have more on their minds than a candidate’s sex life.
The poll shows that Cunningham has taken a hit with women and older voters, but, overall, people shrugged. Cunningham improved with younger voters and men. Women shifted toward Tillis by seven points while men shifted to Cunningham by 13. Among younger voters, Cunningham expanded his margin from eight to twenty points.
The poll notes that the political environment must be taken into account to understand the movement toward Cunningham. While they have not released the results of the presidential survey, they indicate that Republicans are facing stiff headwinds that are getting stronger. As the pollster noted, “An ebbtide sinks all boats, and Tillis’ fight for a 2nd term in the USA’s quintessential battleground state cannot be judged absent the larger context of how Republicans are faring nationwide in the final weeks of President Donald J. Trump’s first term. Movement in the Presidential contest between Trump and Democrat Joseph Biden and movement in the election for Governor of North Carolina, poll results from which will be released over the coming 48 hours, provide context to interpret Tillis’ failure to thrive.” In other words, Republicans can expect more bad news today and tomorrow.
The forces driving the electorate are bigger than any one campaign and far more powerful than any ads being produced. Voters are moving quickly against Trump and the Republicans. The Rose Garden COVID party that Trump and the GOP leadership hosted seems to have been the last straw. People want a government that takes their fears and concerns seriously instead of one that mocks experts, cavalierly holding rallies and events that could spread a deadly virus.
A lot of people point back to 2016 to say that this race is far from over. However, this cycle is not much like 2016. Back then, we were a country in relative calm with a solid economy with no significant hotspots on the world stage. Trump’s reality show campaign seemed interesting and refreshing compared to Clinton’s staid establishment operation with all of its ties to what Trump dubbed “The Swamp.”
Now, we are a country in crisis with a clearly incompetent administration. Trump’s rallies don’t look entertaining anymore. They look foolish and dangerous. Republicans don’t want to contain COVID; they want to spread it. Trumpers may love it, but most Americans see hubris and irresponsibility.
We have three weeks to go and, right now, an anti-GOP movement is swelling. While polls provide one bit of evidence, money and votes give more. Democrats are watching an unprecedented amount of money flow into campaigns from low-dollar donors. South Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Jaime Harrison raked in $57 million in the third quarter with an average donation below $40. Democratic Congressional challengers are outraising incumbent Republicans. In early votes returned, Democrats lead Republicans by more than two to one in many states. Signs point to building wave of huge proportions and Trump and the Republicans are running out of time to divert it.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >