Trump dominating NC politics, as Biden tries to find a path

Published May 23, 2024

By Dallas Woodhouse

Former President Donald Trump is currently awaiting his fate in a convoluted business records trial in New York. Meanwhile the populist Republican is dominating North Carolina politics.

Last week, former federal prosecutor Brad Knott, Trump’s pick, easily won the GOP second primary for the 13th congressional district. With token Democratic opposition in the general election, Knott will head to Congress early next year.

Knott finished second in March behind Johnston County attorney Kelly Daughtry, but she failed to exceed the 30% necessary to avoid a runoff. What was expected to be a close race ended weeks ago, when Daughtry suspended her campaign. The decision came shortly after Trump endorsed Knott, as Knott started to pull away.

A similar pattern occurred in the Sixth Congressional District, where former Congressman Mark Walker declined to call for a run-off against Trump-endorsed Addison McDowell. Walker has since joined the Trump campaign.

In June of 2021, Trump endorsed Congressman Ted Budd for US Senate. It was the largest factor in making Ted Budd the GOP nominee. Ted Budd won his US Senate seat in November of 2022.

Three out of four GOP primary voters voted for Trump during the March primary.

Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 3.7% in 2016 and narrowly defeated Biden by 1.3% in 2020. North Carolina was the closest Trump-won state in both cycles.

As reported by Reuters, Biden thinks he can flip North Carolina like Obama did in 2008, but current polling makes that seem unlikely. Reuters reported that the Biden campaign has opened 11 offices in the state and had 40 staffers by the end of the April.

The current Real Clear Politics average of North Carolina polls shows Trump with a 5.4% lead.

The 538 polling average shows Trump with a 6.2% lead, which is significantly worse than Biden’s 538 polling average for North Carolina from May of 2020, which showed Biden leading Trump by 2.1%.

Also, Trump outperformed the 2020 Real Clear polling average vote by +1%, overperformed the 2020 538 polling average by a full +3.1%, and outperformed the final2020 John Locke Foundation poll by 2.3%.

So yes, in general over the last eight years, Trump’s actual vote totals have slightly outperformed polls.

The recent Emerson College North Carolina poll, showed Trump leading by 5 points and winning unaffiliated voters by 3 points.

Biden, on the other hand, continues to be very unpopular in North Carolina. The Emerson College poll showed Joe Biden with only a 37% job approval compared to 53% disapproval.

The May Carolina Journal poll showed almost identical results, with only 36.4% of voters approving of Joe Biden’s job performance.

Trump has topped Biden in a dozen straight public polls. It’s been 16 months since Biden led a North Carolina poll. 

Trump has strong influence on the North Carolina Republican Party (NCGOP), as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee is the recent NCGOP chair, and the new state chair is a former Trump campaign staffer.

As of now, it’s a Trump state and a Trump Republican Party in North Carolina.

Can Biden turn this around? If so, how?

How can Biden turn around his lower-than-required numbers with single black males and young people, who, according to survey data, are sprinting away from the Biden coalition at an alarming rate for his campaign.

If the economy improves or inflation levels off, will Biden get credit? If Trump is convicted in New York, will that help Biden? Or could it hurt? Will millions on TV ads attacking top state office-seeking Republicans help boost Biden by activating disapproving Democrats to vote for down-ticket races and perhaps vote for Biden while holding their nose?

Nothing Biden is doing in North Carolina seems to be working. If he is going to change things, it must happen soon. However, as of now, Trump’s footprint in in the Tar Heel State is as large as it’s ever been