Internal poll shows McCrory with double-digit lead in North Carolina GOP Senate primary

Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has the edge in the GOP primary to replace retiring Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), according to an internal poll released by his campaign that shows him besting former President Trump’s pick for the nomination.

The poll shows McCrory garnering 40 percent support in the GOP primary, putting him 15 points above Rep. Ted Budd (N.C.), whom Trump endorsed this summer. Meanwhile, former Rep. Mark Walker (N.C.) trails both of his top opponents with 8 percent support. 

McCrory’s edge may be due to his near-universal name recognition among North Carolina Republicans. The internal poll shows him with 94 percent name ID among likely GOP primary voters, with 63 percent holding a favorable view of the former governor and only 17 percent viewing him unfavorably.

Budd, on the other hand, is recognized by 64 percent of likely primary voters — double his percentage in a similar poll from April. Thirty-seven percent say they have a favorable opinion of the North Carolina congressman, while just 6 percent view him unfavorably. 

The survey was conducted by the GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies for McCrory’s campaign. It surveyed 500 likely Republican primary voters in North Carolina from Oct. 16 to Oct. 19 and has a margin of sampling error of 4.38 percentage points.

To be sure, Budd has a lot going for him in the primary to replace Burr, who’s retiring at the end of his current term. Trump gave him a key early endorsement in June, and outside groups such as the conservative Club for Growth are already spending money to boost his Senate bid.

At the same time, Budd and McCrory nearly matched each other in fundraising for their Senate bids in the third quarter of 2021, with each bringing in about $1 million. Budd has a slight cash-on-hand advantage, reporting about $2 million in the bank to McCrory’s $1.6 million.

The North Carolina Senate race is poised to be one of the most watched — and most expensive — of the 2022 midterm election cycle. It’s one of several Senate races in which Democrats are playing offense as they look to expand their razor-thin majority in the upper chamber.

Still, the party is likely to face a difficult fight in the state. For one, the party of a new president tends to lose ground in the midterm elections, and President Biden’s approval numbers have plummeted in recent months. 

Democrats are also dealing with a primary of their own. More than half a dozen Democrats are vying for the party’s nomination, including former state Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley, state Sen. Jeff Jackson and former state Sen. Erica Smith. 

Tags 2022 midterm elections Donald Trump Joe Biden Mark Walker North Carolina politics North Carolina Senate Race Pat McCrory Polling Richard Burr Ted Budd

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