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Poll: Biden holds small lead over Trump in North Carolina

Poll: Biden holds small lead over Trump in North Carolina
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A new poll finds Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race MORE with a slight advantage over President TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE in North Carolina, which Trump carried by less than 3 points in 2016.

The latest Monmouth University Poll survey finds Biden at 49 percent and Trump at 46 percent in the state, with 3 percent supporting Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen and 2 percent undecided.

When a high-turnout model is considered, Biden’s lead ticks up to 50 percent, compared to 46 percent for Trump. In a low-turnout model, the race tightens to 49 percent-48 percent in favor of Biden.

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The former vice president has run up a big lead in the 22 North Carolina swing counties that broke narrowly for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Katko fends off Democratic opponent in New York race Harris County GOP chairman who made racist Facebook post resigns MORE in 2016. Biden has a 21-point lead over Trump in the counties that Clinton carried by only 1 point.

Biden leads by 22 points in the counties that went solidly for Clinton in 2016, and Trump leads by 26 points in the districts he won easily last time, although that’s down from his 34-point margin of victory in 2016.

“There has been some shifting within the electorate but the overall picture remains the same — another tight presidential contest in North Carolina,” said Monmouth pollster Patrick Murray. “Basically, it looks like Trump has been locking in his base at the expense of swing voter support. Each of the last three presidential elections were decided by fewer than four percentage points in North Carolina.”

Law and order is the most important issue for North Carolina voters, with 56 percent saying they worry about it a lot, followed by the pandemic, access to medical care and their personal economic situation.

Trump has a slight advantage over Biden on the question of law and order, at 46 percent to 43 percent. Biden leads comfortably on the pandemic — 9 points — and health care — 8 points — while Trump leads by 9 points on the economy.

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“The issue where Trump is strongest, jobs and the economy, is the one that voters — and crucially, independent voters — seem to be less worried about right now,” said Murray.

Democratic Senate nominee Cal Cunningham, who has been dogged by a controversy involving extramarital texts, leads Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGrassley returns to Capitol after having coronavirus McConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge North Carolina — still purple but up for grabs MORE (R-N.C.) 48 percent to 44 percent.  The same poll from September found Cunningham ahead by 2 points.

Voters have a much worse view of Cunningham following his sexting scandal, with his favorable rating going from a positive 34 percent-22 percent split to a negative 25 percent-33 percent split. Still, 51 percent say this should only be an issue for him and his family to consider.

“North Carolinians may frown on Cunningham’s behavior but few think it has any bearing on his fitness for office,” said Murray. “In fact, at a time when swing voters have had their fill of hyperpartisanship, it’s possible that this story coming out now could actually hurt Tillis a bit.”