As we discussed over the weekend, Donald Trump has a block of nine states currently in or near tossup status which he has to win in order to reach 270. (That’s absent a miracle in Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin of course.) One of those is North Carolina and the final poll of the state from Siena College is closing out the race showing him tied with Hillary Clinton at 44 percent. But it’s not just the top of the ticket which is on a razor’s edge. The Senate and gubernatorial contests are also nearly at parity.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are tied, 44-44 percent, one day before the election in a three-way race for North Carolina’s key electoral votes, according to a New York Times Upshot/Siena College Research Institute poll of likely North Carolina voters released today. In September, Trump and Clinton were tied 41-41 percent in North Carolina, but two weeks ago, Clinton had held a seven point advantage. The race between Republican Senator Richard Burr and Democratic challenger, Deborah Ross remains tight with Burr holding a one point lead, 46-45 percent, after trailing Ross by a single point, 47-46 percent two weeks ago. In the race for Governor, Democrat Attorney General Roy Cooper has seen his lead over Republican incumbent Pat McCrory drop from 51-45 percent two weeks ago to a single point, 47-46 percent today.
While it’s theoretically possible for Trump to win without North Carolina, the likelihood seems roughly on par with SMOD wiping out several blue states in the next 36 hours. North Carolina’s transition to being a swing state happened pretty quickly in terms of electoral history. Prior to the Obama era the state last voted for a Democrat when they supported Jimmy Carter in 1976. Before that you had to go back to 1964. (The state voted reliably Democrat from 1876 until then with only one exception.) Now there seems to be a perfectly even split among the voters.
What may be more interesting is the situation with Senator Richard Burr. He won a three way race to replace John Edwards in 2004 by a five point margin. His reelection bid in 2010 went even better, with Burr garnering 55%. (That was a non-presidential election year which helped, of course.) So is “the Trump effect” plaguing him? This is one of those questions which may never be possible to answer in a state this tightly divided. Burr has been an unwavering supporter of Trump, while admitting that the nominee has flaws which he doesn’t condone. During one of his debates during this race he seemed able to walk that tightrope fairly well. (NPR)
I’m the son of a Presbyterian minister. My dad taught me when somebody asked for forgiveness, you grant it. Now, I’m not going to defend Donald Trump, what he said or his actions, but when I look at our choice, it’s not close for me.
I keep wondering how much of a net effect Trump has on races such as this one. The GOP has mostly come home to support the nominee, but Trump still has very vocal critics among conservatives. If Burr had come out against Trump he would have angered those willing to vote for the nominee, but choosing the path he took left him open to criticism from #NeverTrump voices. In the end it may come out as a wash. We can’t really answer that question without dipping into some alternative universe where a more “conventional” Republican took the nomination and Burr was running the same race.
The fact remains, however, that we need to keep control of the Senate no matter who is in the White House. Let’s hope that Burr finds a way to pull this one out.