As the long march to Election Day continues across the country, Republican Senate candidates are finding themselves in an unexpected position – behind in the polls against their Democratic Party opponents.
One of the latest polls in North Carolina’s hugely important race between former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, and right-wing extremist Republican Rep. Ted Budd (NC-13) shows Beasley with a four-point lead.
In Blueprint’s poll, conducted from Aug. 4-6, Beasley has a 46-42 lead over Budd with 12 percent of voters still undecided. Beasley leads among women by 16 points, leads among independent voters by 12 points and is winning by 20 points with college-educated voters.
Political data outfit FiveThirtyEight shows Beasley with a 0.1 point lead over Budd when averaging out each poll’s “quality, recency, sample size and partisan lean.” Budd’s biggest average lead was by 6.2 points back on May 23. His lead in the race has evaporated in less than three months.
There are a number of possible reasons for Beasley’s rise, and according to The News & Observer, one of the biggest ones is simply that she has been spending lots of time on the road meeting voters where they live. Whether that’s in cities like Raleigh and Charlotte or tiny towns like Hertford and Camden, Beasley has been on the ground shaking hands, giving stump speeches, touring small businesses and answering questions from voters.
For his part, Budd has barely been seen over the last few months. The congressman spent a lot of time on the road during the Republican primary, skipping all of the Republican debates and rarely holding any kind of major media event – and still won with 58% of the vote – so it’s possible Budd thought he had the race against Beasley already in the bag.
Unfortunately for Budd, the political climate, which had been much friendlier to Republicans earlier this year, has quickly changed following the Jan. 6 committee hearings, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, multiple mass shootings committed by young men who legally purchased their weapons of war, bipartisan moves in Washington to codify federal rights for same-sex and interracial marriages as well as guaranteed access to contraception and, most recently, the FBI raid on ex-President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
Doubly unfortunate for Budd, he has seriously troubling associations/views/votes dealing with all of those issues:
- Throughout his Senate campaign, Ted Budd has routinely avoided talking about his vote to overturn the 2020 election and the election lies he helped spread – particularly downplaying the attack on our Capitol, stating the attack was, “nothing” and “just patriots standing up.” Just last week, “Big Lie” proponent Cleta Mitchell held a fundraiser for Budd in Southern Pines. She was integral to Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results. Budd’s campaign celebrated her support.
- Budd called the overturning of Roe v. Wade “a historic victory,” putting him at odds with around 62% of the country and 55% of North Carolinians who support the right to an abortion. Budd has also previously stated his belief that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape, incest, or where a mother’s life could be at risk.
- Budd is a proud gun shop and shooting range owner and is a staunch defender of his interpretation of the Second Amendment at a time when mass shootings keep happening. He also voted against a bipartisan gun reform bill in July and doesn’t believe in tightening any gun laws – something more than 60% of North Carolinians favor.
- The congressman voted against the Respect for Marriage Act, which would recognize same-sex and interracial marriages at the federal level. The bill, which received 47 Republican votes, passed the House in a 267-157 vote.
- Budd also voted against North Carolina Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning’s Right to Contraception Act, which would guarantee access to contraception, something that has 90% support across the U.S.
- Ted Budd is a big fan of Donald Trump and Donald Trump is a big fan of Ted Budd. While Trump’s endorsement may have helped in the May Republican primary, it’s not looking like a positive thing for the general election, especially after the FBI raided Trump’s Florida home and seized top-secret documents being kept in 11 boxes there. According to CNBC, “[t]he warrant indicates that statutes relating to espionage and obstruction of justice are the foundation for the search.” Budd likes to claim he’s a proud patriot, but associating yourself with an ex-president being investigated on violations of those statutes is not very patriotic.
As The News & Observer has reported, Beasley’s campaign is hoping that her visits to areas of the state often neglected during campaigns – such as northeastern North Carolina and far western areas of the state – will result in those people finally feeling heard and thus more likely to show up to vote.
Beasley is focusing a lot of her time on reaching out to rural voters and letting them know her plans to help them out if she becomes North Carolina’s next U.S. Senator.
According to The N&O, when visiting these rural areas, Beasley has “focused on her policy priorities — lowering insulin costs, protecting reproductive rights and securing broadband internet for rural parts of the state” and has also made sure to contrast her views with Budd’s votes, such as his recent vote against putting a $35 per month cap on insulin costs.
Eastern North Carolina native Rev. William Barber II, who is co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, told The News & Observer that he believes a candidate running a populist campaign can win a statewide election by engaging low-income voters on the issues that matter most to them and giving them a voice in the campaign. He also suggested that the candidate should push “for a debate and [host] it regardless of whether the other candidate shows up. The candidate should hit hard on bread-and-butter economic issues like wages.”
As of now, that’s exactly what Beasley is doing on the campaign trail. While these polls aren’t pinpointing which issues voters are connecting with her on, they seem to indicate that more North Carolinians are realizing Budd is a dangerous man and a threat to our democracy – and Beasley is the candidate who is laser-focused on the issues that are actually going to impact people on a daily basis.