The Pulse

Field notes from the U.S. Senate election — Vol. 8

By: - April 6, 2022 9:31 am

Poll shows Budd up big in GOP primary

The latest set of poll numbers wiped away any question about the strength of two-term congressman Ted Budd’s lead in the GOP Senate primary.

A poll by Emerson College of likely GOP primary voters for The Hill, which was released late Tuesday, showed Budd favored by 38% of respondents, well above the 30 percent threshold that would trigger a runoff.

Former governor Pat McCrory, who led the race in a January poll, saw his support drop to 22%. Former congressman Mark Walker came in at 9% and author Marjorie Eastman at 1%. About 23% remain undecided in the race, a big drop from earlier this year when nearly half of GOP voters were uncommitted.

According to Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, Budd and McCrory were evenly split among the state’s suburban voters, but rural voters preferred Budd by about 4 to 1.

McCrory got another round of bad news in an accompanying poll of general election voters on a potential race against former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, the likely Democratic winner.

McCrory was the only one of the four top tier GOP candidates who wasn’t either tied or ahead, running behind Beasley 43-41. The poll showed Budd ahead of Beasley 50-43; Walker up 47-42 and Eastman and Beasley tied at 44%.

A somewhat closer race is predicted in a new Cygnal poll of likely general election voters released this week. That poll shows Budd with a much slimmer lead running less than two points ahead of Beasley at 44.6% to Beasley’s 43.1%. McCrory and Beasley are tied in the poll.

Both the Cygnal and Emerson College polls underline difficulties for Democratic candidates in this election cycle. The Emerson College Poll shows that President Joe Biden’s approval rating remains low in the state with 44% saying they approve of the job he’s doing to 52% saying they disapprove.

The Cygnal poll shows that about 49% of voters say things in North Carolina are on the wrong track and a 50-44 tilt toward GOP candidates in a generic ballot.

Trump heads to The Farm

The Emerson College Poll also showed that former President Donald Trump remains a powerful influence on GOP primary voters with 59% of all respondents saying his endorsement would influence their decision. About half of the undecideds in the poll said Trump’s endorsement would be an influence.

Trump returns to North Carolina Saturday to do just that at a rally with Ted Budd in Selma [Motto: The Crossroads of Tradition and Innovation].

The event will be held at The Farm at I-95, the same Johnston County venue where Trump held a rally during his 2016 campaign for president. Doors open at 2 p.m. Speakers start at 4 p.m. Trump is scheduled to start around 7 p.m.

The full slate of speakers has yet to be announced, but in addition to whatever fireworks the former president brings, the rally will also include Rep. Madison Cawthorn for his first public appearance with Trump since a recent falling out with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy over Cawthorn’s sordid tales of orgies and cocaine use in our nation’s capital.

This week, Sen. Thom Tillis endorsed Cawthorn’s opponent in the primary, State Sen. Chuck Edwards.

Key dates & links for voters

Absentee ballots are available and can be requested at the state’s online ballot request portal. The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is May 10. You can also track your ballot.

The statewide civilian voter registration deadline is April 22.

The One Stop and Same-Day Voter Registration period runs from April 28 to May 14. Eligible, unregistered voters can register and vote at the one stop locations in their county during the in-person early voting period. Election Day is May 17

Information links

2020 Statewide Primary Overview
Voter Registration Information
Vote By Mail Information
Vote By Mail FAQ
Vote By Mail Instructions
Help for Voters with Disabilities
In-Person Early Voting
Election Day Voting
Polling Place Look Up
Sample Ballots


Reuters — North Carolina U.S. Senate primary a test of Trump’s power over Republican voters
Emerson College — Ted Budd Holds 16-point Lead in Republican Primary for U.S. Senate; Leads Potential Matchup Against Democrat Cheri Beasley
The Hill — Budd leads GOP rivals in NC Senate primary: poll
News & ObserverTrump-endorsed Budd leads McCrory by double digits in NC GOP Senate race, poll says
Wilkes Journal-PatriotBudd, Robinson address Wilkes Republicans
North State JournalNC Values Coalition poll shows Budd leading Senate primary
WFAE — Fact Check: Budd’s tweet about a McCrory-appointed judge was misleading
WGHP — NC Dems launch ad to attack Senate candidates

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Kirk Ross

Kirk Ross, 2022 Election Correspondent, is a longtime North Carolina journalist covering the 2022 U.S. Senate race for Policy Watch and States Newsroom. For the past decade, Kirk has reported on state politics and public policy as a member of the Capital Press Corps for Carolina Public Press and the Washington Post and on environmental, climate change and energy policy for Coastal Review. Kirk was a Chapel Hill News and News & Observer local government and education reporter, managing editor of INDY Week and co-founder and editor of the fondly-remembered Carrboro Citizen weekly. [email protected] 919-737-5096