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Tillis trails Democratic challenger by 7 points in North Carolina poll

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) trails one of his Democratic challengers by 7 points in North Carolina's 2020 Senate race, according to a new poll.

Tillis, one of the more endangered Senate Republicans running for reelection, trails state Sen. Erica Smith (D) 46 percent to 39 percent in an Emerson College poll released Tuesday, while 15 percent of voters are undecided.

Democrats view North Carolina's Senate seat as a potential pickup opportunity in 2020 as the party seeks to chip away at the GOP's 53-47 majority in the upper chamber.

Beyond Smith, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller has also jumped into the Democratic primary to challenge Tillis. Support for Fuller was not polled in the Emerson College survey.

In a sign Republicans across the ticket may face trouble in the Tar Heel State, President Trump also trails multiple Democratic challengers, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the poll.

Trump won North Carolina in 2016 by 3.6 points, and the state has trended Republican in past presidential cycles, but Democrats view the state as a top battleground for the Senate and White House next year.

Tillis, a former North Carolina state House Speaker, was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014 when he unseated Democrat Kay Hagan. Rumors have mounted of a possible primary challenge against the first-term Republican over criticisms he's made about the Trump White House. Businessman Garland Tucker has already declared he will challenge Tillis for the GOP nomination.

Beyond North Carolina, Democrats are eyeing Republican-held Senate seats in Maine, Colorado, Iowa and Arizona.

The Emerson College poll surveyed 932 registered voters between May 31 and June 3 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

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