A new poll of North Carolina shows Democrat Joe BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE with a razor-thin lead in the battleground state of North Carolina, which is close to a must-win state for President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE.
The Meredith College poll published Monday found the former vice president holding support from 45.7 percent of likely voters polled, barely leading Trump at 45.4 percent.
The president's competitiveness is fueled by an advantage among independents, who break for him 43.1 percent to 39.8 percent in the poll.
Former President Obama won North Carolina in the 2008 presidential race, but it went Republican in 2012 and 2016.
“North Carolina is shaping up to be the key battleground everyone thought it would be heading into the election cycle. Although Trump has gained some ground with key groups like Hispanic voters, he is running behind Biden among suburban voters and women voters, two key groups that will determine the outcome of the presidential race in North Carolina," said Meredith's poll director David McLennan.
The state is also home to a key Senate race that could decide the next majority.
The poll found Democrat Cal Cunningham (D) leading incumbent Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Hillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products MORE (R), 43.1 percent to 41.8 percent. It's a gap within the poll's margin for error.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) holds a double-digit lead over Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) in his race, 49.6 percent to 39.3 percent.
McLennan said Cooper's response to the COVID-19 pandemic had put Republicans at a disadvantage in terms of recapturing the governorship, which the GOP held before Cooper took office in 2017.
“The election is about the governor’s response to the pandemic and, as long as most citizens in the state seem to approve how the governor has handled that, it makes Dan Forest’s task very difficult," said McLennan.
Meredith College's poll contacted 705 likely voters in North Carolina Sept. 18-22, with a credibility interval of 3.5 percentage points.