Poll finds razor-thin race between Trump, Biden and Tillis, Cunningham in key swing state of North Carolina

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Incredibly tight race in NC for President, Senate, new poll finds
Poll data shows Joe Biden with a narrow 49-48 lead against Donald Trump among likely voters in the state.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new poll in North Carolina shows a dead heat in the race for President and Senate.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone from Oct. 12-17. It consisted of a random sample of 706 North Carolina registered voters and 646 likely voters.

With a margin of error at 4.5%, the poll found Joe Biden with 49% support and President Donald Trump with 48% support.

The current president enjoys leads among white evangelicals and rural voters.

Meanwhile, the former vice president has big leads with moderate voters and college graduates.

WATCH: Uptick in young voters could have major implications in North Carolina

In a swing state like North Carolina, trends in voter data show the best way to reach out to undecided voters is to target young people.

While those demographics are not surprising, since they fall along typically political voting lines, what is different is the amount of support Biden enjoys with moderates and college grads.

At the same time in 2016, Hillary Clinton had a 20-point advantage against Trump among moderate voters. Biden's lead in that category is 34 percentage points. Biden also holds the widest advantage among college graduates recorded since 1988.

North Carolina, along with many other states, is seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. The pandemic is one of the most important topics to many voters.

Biden has a slight, albeit not statistically significant, advantage to Trump (51-45) when voters were asked who they trust to handle the pandemic.

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Voters polled were also split on who they think is better suited to handle the economy. Fifty-two percent said they preferred Trump to Biden.

Where Trump holds a higher advantage is in enthusiasm. Seventy-six percent of the president's supporters are very enthusiastic about him; while just 61 percent of Biden's supporters voiced the same level of enthusiasm.

Ultimately the poll shows North Carolina as much closer than the race nationally, and the state will be very important in deciding who ultimately serves as president for the next four years.

WATCH: Track early voting wait times at Wake, Durham County polls

Wake and Durham County Board of Elections each have a website where you can track wait times.

As Americans have seen twice in the 2000s, the candidate with the most votes does not always win. The electoral college, which gives each state a different number of votes, ultimately picks the winner.

North Carolina is worth 15 electoral votes, and those votes could swing the election. Trump won North Carolina 50-46 in 2016. Only two Democrats have won the state since the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s: Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Barack Obama in 2008.

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Senate Race

Another key race in November is the Senate seat currently held by Republican Thom Tillis. His challenger Cal Cunningham holds a slight lead (49-47), according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Support for each candidate is very similar to what is seen in the presidential race. Which makes sense, when you learn that 85 percent of voters described which party wins control of the Senate as a top priority in their decision-making process.

Republicans currently hold a 53-47 Senate majority. This year 23 Republican-held seats and 12 Democratic-held seats are up for re-election.

According to FiveThirtyEight, Democrats currently have a 74 percent chance to win a majority in the Senate. Tillis' seat is one of the ones they're hoping to flip.

Tillis enjoys 92 percent support among Trump supporters--the exact same amount of support Cunningham enjoys among Biden supporters.


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