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North Carolina Democrat Cunningham leads Tillis by 10 points in new poll

North Carolina Democrat Cunningham leads Tillis by 10 points in new poll

Democrat Cal Cunningham holds a comfortable 10-point lead over Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid MORE (R) in the closely watched North Carolina Senate race, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.  

With just days to go before Election Day, Cunningham garnered 53 percent support among likely voters to Tillis’s 43 percent, a lead well outside the poll’s 4.7-point margin of error. 

Cunningham is propelled by strong support among white college graduates, independents, women and suburban voters, a fast-growing bloc in North Carolina and one that has drifted away from the Republican Party in recent years. 

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Among voters who have already cast their ballots, Cunningham holds a wide 21-point lead over Tillis, according to the NBC News-Marist poll. 

The North Carolina Senate race is among the most competitive in the country. Democrats see Tillis’s seat as crucial to their path to winning the Senate majority in November, and both parties are investing heavily in the state  the total spending there has so far eclipsed the $270 million mark. 

Cunningham was a top recruit for Senate Democratic leaders, fitting a mold that has given the party success in recent election cycles. He’s a former North Carolina state senator and Iraq War veteran who has campaigned as an inoffensive moderate in a state that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE carried narrowly in 2016. 

But his campaign has also run into trouble in recent weeks after he admitted to exchanging romantic text messages with a woman who is not his wife. Other text messages reported earlier this month by The Associated Press confirmed that Cunningham had carried on an extramarital affair.

The Army Reserve is investigating whether Cunningham may have violated rules concerning adultery under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

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Cunningham has repeatedly refused to answer questions about his extramarital activity and has kept a relatively low profile on the campaign trail in recent weeks. 

Despite the controversy and a barrage of Republican attacks over his conduct, the latest NBC News-Marist poll suggests that the revelations have had little effect on the Democratic Senate challenger’s electoral prospects. The race is still rated by election handicappers as a toss-up, but most public polls show him leading Tillis by modest, single-digit margins.

The NBC News-Marist poll surveyed 800 likely voters in North Carolina from Oct. 25 to 28. It has a margin of sampling error of 4.7 percentage points.