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Polling shows Beasley, Budd neck and neck in US Senate race

Political experts say the candidates should be focused on energizing and mobilizing their bases.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Election Day is less than five weeks away and North Carolina will be a state to watch. New polling shows the U.S. Senate race is in a dead heat.

The poll, conducted by WCNC Charlotte’s news partner in Raleigh WRAL, shows 43% of likely voters favor Republican candidate Representative Ted Budd and 42% prefer the Democratic candidate, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.

More than 16,000 North Carolinians voted by mail by Oct. 5, but there are still millions of ballots left to be cast. Political experts believe now is the time for each candidate to energize and mobilize their base.

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Strategists on both sides of the aisle agree the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina will be close. Polling shows Beasley and Budd are virtually tied.

“Usually, registered Republicans have the highest turnout rate," Michael Bitzer, a political expert with Catawba College, said. "Democrats are meeting the state average but if Beasley wants that advantage edge, she needs to bump up her own base to kind of match or get close to where Ted Budd’s group will be showing up."

A Democrat hasn’t won a U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina since 2008. Beasley’s win would be historic, she would be the first Black female senator from the Tar Heel State.

“These elections are never a blowout, they’re always won by one or two percentage points so that shows that Democrats have a shot of winning statewide," Doug Wilson, a Democratic strategist, said. "I think what Democrats have to do in the next few weeks is really remind voters as to why they were put in charge just 18 months ago."

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Polling shows key issues like the economy, inflation and abortion rights will be pushing people to vote.

Republican strategists think that works to Representative Budd’s advantage.

“If the interest rates continue to go up and the stock market continues to go down that’s going to be front of mind for voters and they’re going to vote against the party in power,” Larry Shaheen Jr., a Republican strategist said.

Budd has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. In a state like North Carolina, Bitzer thinks that could go either way, energizing Republicans to go out and support him, and Democrats to vote against him.

The deadline to register to vote in this election is Oct. 14. Early voting starts on Oct. 20.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly.
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