Beasley, Budd in close race for US Senate seat, WRAL News poll shows
Democratic former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Burr are running to fill the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Burr.Posted — Updated
While 44% of respondents said they’d support Beasley, 40% favored Budd, according to the poll. About one in seven likely voters were undecided. Of the 650 likely voters polled, 37% were affiliated with the Republican Party, while 34% said they were affiliated with the Democratic Party and 27% identified as independent.
The scientific poll, which was conducted from June 8 to 12 in partnership with SurveyUSA, shows Beasley’s lead within the credibility interval of 5.1 percentage points. A credibility interval is similar to margin of error but takes into account more factors and is therefore considered by some pollsters to be a more accurate measurement of statistical certainty.
Beasley and Budd are running to fill the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. The outcome could determine which party controls the chamber that is evenly split. If Republicans regain a majority, President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda could come to a halt.
The two Senate candidates handily won their party nominations last month to advance to the November election. Budd, who has represented a district outside Greensboro in the U.S. House since 2017, faced a far more divisive primary. Beasley, who served as chief justice of the state Supreme Court before a narrow 2020 court election defeat, became her party’s presumptive U.S. Senate nominee after other viable candidates dropped out late last year.
Beasley entered the home stretch of her primary with a sizable cash advantage over Budd. As of April 27, her available cash of nearly $3.3 million was about three times greater than what Budd had at his disposal.
During the primary, Budd benefited from more than $12 million in outside spending from Club for Growth, a Washington, D.C., political action group.
The WRAL News poll comes on the heels of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which could have bolstered Beasley’s chances, according to SurveyUSA.
Budd, who owns a gun store and shooting range, has spoken critically of federal restrictions that might limit firearm access. His campaign website says “any encroachment of the Second Amendment won’t stop criminals—it will only undermine the ability to defend yourself and protect your family.”
If elected, Beasley would support raising the age of gun ownership from 18 to 21. She also supports the hiring of more school resource officers to help keep children safe, according to her campaign.
She also supports a proposal from a bipartisan group of senators, including Burr, that includes more comprehensive background checks for prospective gun owners below the age of 21, stronger protections for domestic abuse victims, increased access to mental health and suicide prevention programs and more funding for school violence prevention efforts and student supportive services.
Budd’s office said the congressman doesn’t yet have a comment on the plan since “there is no legislative text on this, only a broad framework.”
"Events over the past few weeks have really kind of changed things," said David McLennan, a political science professor at Meredith College in Raleigh. "And I think the shooting and Uvalde, Texas, and in Buffalo, N.Y., may have at least temporarily shifted the momentum to Cheri Beasley."
A spokesman for Budd didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the poll.
Alper and McLennan think the legal battle over Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion case that is expected to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, could also be motivating women voters.
"I think those two key issues of abortion and gun rights are going to be at least for the summer, very important issues, whether they are by the time we get to November that's open for discussion."
Beasley fared best in the poll among women, moderates, urban residents, college graduates, gun control supporters and lower-income residents. Beasley also received plurality support among all age groups.
“North Carolinians know they can trust her to put our families first and fight for what's best for North Carolina,” Dory MacMillan, a spokeswoman for Beasley, said in a statement after the poll was released.
Budd outperformed Beasley among men, white people, those with a high school degree or less and Charlotte-area residents.
Voters who consider themselves ideologically moderate favored Beasley by a 28-point margin, though registered unaffiliated voters preferred Beasley by 2 points.
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