Pollster: Still plenty of time for 2020 races to shift
SurveyUSA CEO Jay Leve says much can change between now and Election Day.
joining us now to talk about the results of our exclusive WRE. Oh news poll survey USA CEO J. Levy J. Thanks again for talking with us. Let's take a look at the presidential numbers. We're talking tie game seven weeks before the election, 47 to 47. Can there really be any undecided votes? Uh, it's a It's a great question. What might happen in the next seven weeks to change someone's opinion? If this were a normal election year, you would say not much. But this is far from a normal election year. And who knows what kind of disinformation Book revelations Biden failures Unforeseen events could turn this thing into more of a lopsided contest than it is in North Carolina right now. The perfect bellwether for America. Exactly dead even. You know, the president won by 5% points in 2016. Where and who is he lost? I know the gender gap is huge. Anything else? Independents are key. The president won independence decisively in North Carolina in 2016 and today he is tied among independents. He needs those independence. The president has not run a campaign courting independence. He has in fact, run a campaign deliberately and carefully chosen to push Peeler people to the polar outsides to be extremely in favor of him or to be extremely opposed to him. So independent voters who had drifted in 2016 to Trump are now basically sitting there saying, I wonder what I should do and we'll see in the next seven weeks whether they move left or move right. Men favoring President Trump where the women are concerned, farm or in favor? Former Vice President Biden. So we went back and took a look at 2016 in North Carolina. There was a 23 point gender gap in 2016. Now it's about 33 point, so maybe it's 10 points larger, but you really have to look at the suburbs toe, understand what's going on in Raleigh's suburbs. Salmon. The other cities in North Carolina, men and women are looking at this presidential election as though through two different looking glasses. There is a 50 point orm, or difference in how male suburban voters see Trump versus how female suburban voters see Trump. They literally look through a Rorschach test, come tow opposite conclusions and in the towns like Wake Forest and Carrie and all around your community, the suburban homes at the dinner table will be quite the event. Do you remember a time in the past few presidential races where we have seen such a swing in the in those communities? Uh, no. I don't know that we actually were smart enough in the older days to focus on the suburbs as such a critical bellwether. Uh, it's important to remember. In 2016 Trump actually carried North Carolina's suburbs by more than he did North Carolina's rural areas. So that's a profound statement about where his strength in 2016 waas, But not today. In today's electorate, suburbs lean slightly to Biden and again, with men providing all of Trump's support in the suburbs and women providing all of Biden's support. J Let's talk about the Senate race here. It has been watched nationally. Ah, lot of money. I mean tons of money being spent in this race, Democrat Cal Cunningham challenging Republican incumbent Thom Tillis tell us in his first term, and as of today in this new poll, Cunningham outside the margin of error. I'm not leaving way see Cunningham running a strong counter offensive to tell us, Tell us his job approval numbers are underwater, which means more voters think disapprove of what he is doing as United States senator than approve. That has been true in two of the three polls we have conducted this year for WRL, so it is not like it's an aberration. It is, uh, something to be gravely concerned about. If you are the sitting incumbent and more voters don't like you than like you, Cunningham is benefiting slightly from the divisiveness of the Trump campaign. Again, that's choreographed. That's not an accident that Trump is doing that, but it has down ballot repercussions. And so you again have some of the more moderate and more independent voters who may be willing to look at a Republican candidate running for Senate or perhaps even running for governor and give him or her the second look or the benefit of the doubt and who are now saying, I think I'm going to drift away from the hot rhetoric. The fierce hot rhetoric of the president and moved toward the Challenger Democrat, even though he may be less well known, is that in your mind. What's happened to some of the GOP support for Tom? Tell us, Uh, Tillis has a striking challenges, and he needs to mount a what shall we say? A likability offensive, because right now he is not well liked in North Carolina. It's interesting that when we did the survey for you in the spring, tell us the support among Republicans was in the high seventies, and now it's in the eighties. So it's not like the Republicans have given up on till us. They actually are consolidating around him. It's the independent voters who have abandoned him. He led in our April poll among independents. He trails badly now among independent voters in our latest survey for you today, and he cannot win without those independent voters. All right, let's talk about the race for governor. Roy Cooper, wrapping up his first term, won by only about 10,000 votes over Pat McCrory four years ago. Dan Forest, the Republican challenger, the lieutenant governor, has tightened this race. We knew this race would tighten, however, it was a little surprising to some of us today, looking at the numbers to see how much it's tight. So the pandemic, the pandemic given and the pandemic take it away. And when our last poll was run for you, it was precisely at the moment when President Trump had made clear that he was going to allow the nation's governors to referee state by state how they wish to respond to the pandemic. As a result, we actually showed Biden ahead in April, so people didn't like Trump's decision at that moment. But coming back to Cooper, Cooper benefited because he was suddenly in the national spotlight. Of course, in North Carolina, he was the governor, but all the governors across the country or in the national spotlight. And we showed Cooper with a, uh, great surge in both his job approval and in his voting numbers. And that was, of course, much tougher on the lieutenant governor, forced as he tried to challenge. Now people have come to understand that the pandemic was not a sprint was not a 60 day event could be with us for a very long time. And so you have in it for the long haul. The governor, the sitting incumbent governor. It's important to note that his job approval numbers are still quite positive. Cooper is sitting on a plus 20 job approval number and just to contrast that with the incumbent senator, tell us he's underwater. So Cooper is doing great, but not as well as he had been in April went Everything looked like it was coming up roses with his crisp handling of the pandemic. Just a couple of more questions. J. With that in mind, what about virus fatigue? Do you see that impacting the responses you received in the survey in any of these races are people sort of numb? Denkova. It's a great question. I think everyone reacts differently depending upon their personal circumstances. If tragically you have lost someone to cove it, you're not numb to it. If you're out of work because of Cove, it, you're not numb to it. If you can't get to your job because of Cove, it you're not numb to it. On the other hand, if you happen to be lucky enough to work in a computer and you can sit in your debt and you can still get paid and everything's hunky dorey and your stock portfolio is looking great, then Cove it is off your front burner just a zits off of most of America newspapers, front pages and, um, it takes a back seat to whatever becomes the burning issue of the day. However, that could change at any moment. Who knows what additional revelations will come forward in the next few weeks? That will shock the conscience. It's unclear. Well, obviously passed 200,000 debt at a certain point this week. That may become a milestone for some to focus on well past six million in terms of the number infected. It's unclear if there's a vaccine on the horizon if the vaccine works. If people take it, all of those things could cause cove it to be yesterday's news by Election Day. Or if the vaccine is announced and blows up in the face of those who roll it out, then obviously cope. It will be front page news on Election Day, so J here we have in this latest poll, President Trump's a favorable I won't say favorable Those who would vote for him today at 47% for Thom Tillis, it's at 40%. For Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, it's 42%. You're looking at 7% 5% respectively, of support. The president has that thes to do not have what is driving people, even though it's a sliver away from those who would vote for the president but not down ballot, even at the race. Just underneath that for President, Trump has the ability to both charm and to captivate. And that is why his supporters become typically fiercely loyal supporters willing to march through a wall for him. I'm not sure that's true of the Republicans down ballot. We'll see. They may or may not be willing to say about Thom Tillis and about Dan Forest and about the Republican running for forests replacement at lieutenant governor that they're prepared to do the same that they would for Trump. It really is a fascinating moment where, and you use the word sliver, and that is the exact right word. David. Every last vote in North Carolina will, in fact, make a difference. Record high turnout is to be presumed. Obviously, the question will be. Will the people who vote by mail get their ballots through the mail system? And will those be counted? The people who vote in person, let's not, uh, root for anything terrible, but if there's a hurricane on Election Day, obviously, that will greatly diminished Trump's support. Most of those people are trump voters, the ones who will vote on Election Day. And so you have all these variables in play that air not typically in play on a regular presidential election cycle, and the disinformation campaigns actively happening online in the social media, dark corners, whether their domestic or they're inspired by international forces, who knows? But none of us can handicap the extent to which those forces in the final weeks will color the outcome of these three top ballot. Very, very close races. J. Before I let you go because you mentioned it there, Survey USA talked with 750 voters in North Carolina. To me, an astonishing amount of those numbers are high percentage had either already voted or were voting by mail, right? So this is a case where in some states we're seeing a 50 or 60 point difference by how people choose to vote. Let me explain what I mean. Biden. It may be in some states ahead by 30 points arm or among those who say they will vote early by U. S. Mail Trump may be ahead by 25 or 30 points. Among those who say I will vote on Election Day in person, just as I always have, and then you have the middle ground in North Carolina is such a state that permits early in person voting where you could go to a center and actually cast your ballot. The contest is closer there in terms of Biden versus Trump. So you have this dynamic unfolding where, uh, the Biden and Democrats are praying that the male and the ballots go out smoothly. The ballots comeback smoothly. And, of course, the last piece the state of North Carolina counts them correctly and and completely. You have the Trump voters saying, I hope it's a clear and sunny day on Election Day, and I hope everyone is able to get to the polls without a problem. No one is hampered from getting out and voting, and then you'll have the drama of Election Night, where people will say Trump won overwhelmingly, assuming they count the Election Day votes first and not the mail in votes first. And then you'll have this ketchup game where the Biden votes will trickle in because most of them will be by U. S. Mail. And then you'll have drama. That may be too much for many to handle, and we'll see how it plays out. What a year. What a year on every level. J. Levy, CEO Survey USA. We appreciate your time. And Jay. Thank you. Be well, David.