Biden Hangs On to Narrow Lead Over Trump in North Carolina

President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally in Gastonia, N.C., last week. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CN) — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s lead over President Donald Trump in the crucial battleground state of North Carolina has slipped slightly to a 3-point advantage, according to a poll released Thursday.

The New York Times/Siena College survey, which was conducted from Oct. 23 to 27 following the final presidential debate, shows the former vice president leading the Republican incumbent 48% to 45% in the state Trump won by 4 percentage points in 2016. Just over 1,000 North Carolinians participated in the poll that has a 3.7-point margin of error.

Two weeks earlier, the same pollsters found Biden held a 4% lead in the Tar Heel State (46% to 42%), which was up slightly from the 45% to 44% lead in a poll taken in September.

Biden polled well with women and African Americans in North Carolina, with 88% of Black voters siding with the Democrat compared to just 5% for Trump. Fifty-one percent of women surveyed said they supported Biden while 44% back the president. The incumbent has a 47% to 45% edge among men.  

Nearly equal shares of respondents said each candidate won the final debate—36% for Trump and 35% for Biden, with 29% saying they did not have an opinion.

Trump’s is scheduled to hold a rally in North Carolina rally on Thursday evening, which will mark his ninth campaign event in the state since September. He last visited on Saturday.

Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute, noted that Biden leads 54% to 40% among the two-thirds of North Carolinians who have already voted while Trump leads 55% to 37% among those who have not yet voted.

“As the campaign enters the closing days – with fewer and fewer voters who have yet to cast their ballot – the race for North Carolina’s 15 Electoral College votes continues to be nip and tuck. Biden has maintained a narrow advantage throughout the fall and has the early lead among those who have already voted,” Levy said.

North Carolina voters are also choosing a U.S. Senate candidate in a highly consequential race. Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham narrowly leads incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis 46% to 43% in the Times/Siena College poll. Cunningham is up 5% from the previous survey despite the emergence of a scandal revealing the candidate, who is married, exchanged romantic texts with a political consultant from California.

A drastic change following the poll in mid-October has undecided voters in the Senate race down from 15% to 6% in the latest survey. The North Carolina Senate race is considered crucial for Democrats’ hopes of taking control of the Senate.

“Cunningham continues to maintain a small lead over Tillis, even as the number of undecided voters drops, as both candidates solidify support with voters from their party,” Levy said. “Independent voters – like at the top of the ticket – have shifted a little to the Democratic side, and Cunningham now leads with them 48-34 percent.”

In North Carolina’s gubernatorial race, Democratic incumbent Roy Cooper holds a 9-point lead over Republican challenger, current Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest. In North Carolina, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately instead of being paired on the same ticket.

Cooper’s lead is down 5 percentage points from his 14-point lead in the previous poll.

Sixty-four of respondents said they have already voted, with 48% voting in person and 15% by mail. Half of North Carolina Independents said they voted in person compared to 11% by mail, while 39% of Independents have yet to vote.

North Carolina has recorded more than 250,000 Covid-19 cases with more than 4,000 deaths from the virus. This week saw 1,214 new cases in the state.

“Covid, Covid, Covid,” Trump told supporters at Saturday’s rally in Lumberton. “By the way, on Nov. 4, you won’t hear about it anymore.”

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