- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2022

Former North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice Cheri Beasley leads Rep. Ted Budd by 1 percentage point in the race for a Senate seat that could determine control of the upper chamber in Washington, according to a new poll.

A Civiqs survey found that 49% of likely voters support Ms. Beasley, a Democrat, and 48% support Mr. Budd, who cleared the GOP primary field with help from former President Donald Trump.

Support for the candidates fell along party lines, but Ms. Beasley had a 1-point edge among independents and drew favorable opinions from female Black and Hispanic voters. Men and White voters tended to give Mr. Budd more favorable ratings.

The candidates are competing to replace retiring Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican. 

One poll earlier in the race had the candidates deadlocked — down to a tenth of a percentage point — and an Emerson College Polling/CBS17/The Hill survey from Tuesday had Mr. Budd in the lead, 46% to 43%, underscoring the unpredictability of the race. The Cook Political Report rates the contest as “lean Republican.”

North Carolina has become the ultimate purple state. It has a Democratic governor and Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court but a GOP-dominated legislature and two Republican U.S. senators.

The Civiqs poll was conducted among 586 likely voters Sept. 17-20 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points.

Voters said they had a slightly split view of Ms. Beasley, with 44% seeing her favorably and 45% unfavorably, while voters had a 41% favorable-49% unfavorable opinion of Mr. Budd.

Ms. Beasley says she is one of the “flippable five,” or Democratic candidates in North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin who are trying to flip GOP-held Senate seats into the blue column.

Democrats have a narrow majority in the 50-50 chamber because Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaking vote.

Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to launch a “red wave” in November by focusing on economic issues, border security and crime.

Pundits say Republicans have a good chance of retaking the House, at least by a narrow margin, but the Senate might be tougher to retake because of questions around the quality of GOP nominees.

Mr. Trump will hold a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Friday to deliver remarks in support of Mr. Budd and “the entire North Carolina Trump Ticket.”

Mr. Trump won North Carolina in 2016 and 2020, defying Democrats who thought they could swipe back its electoral votes.

Mr. Budd voted not to certify the 2020 presidential results but has said he thinks President Biden is the legitimate president.

Ms. Beasley highlighted Mr. Budd‘s vote and the upcoming rally in a fundraising pitch Thursday. She told supporters that Mr. Budd and Mr. Trump were too close to comfort and that North Carolina would be pivotal in the next two election cycles.

Donald Trump has done more to prop up my opponent Ted Budd than almost any other Senate candidate in the country,” her campaign wrote. He is making this ground zero for not just 2022 but 2024 as well.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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