Post-ABC poll: Trump and Biden are in a dead heat in North Carolina – The Washington Post

October 20 at 6:51 AM


Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and granddaughter Finnegan Biden stop for milkshakes in Durham, N.C., on Sunday. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden are running in a dead heat in North Carolina, with the economy buoying the president’s candidacy and the coronavirus pandemic boosting his challenger in one of the key electoral targets in November, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll finds Biden at 49 percent and Trump at 48 percent among likely voters, with two third-party candidates — Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgensen and Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins — accounting for just 1 percent of the vote. Among registered voters, Biden is at 48 percent, Trump at 46 percent and the third-party candidates a combined 3 percent.

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Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Presidential contest is in a dead heat in North Carolina

Q: If the presidential election were held today, for whom would you vote/lean toward?

Among likely voters

Biden/Harris 49%

Error margin

Trump/Pence 48%

Note: Support for Jorgensen, Hawkins, “Other,” “None,” “Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 12-17, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll among 646 North Carolina likely voters with an error margin of +/- 4.5 percentage points.

North Carolina

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Presidential contest is in a dead heat in North Carolina

Q: If the presidential election were held today, for whom would you vote/lean toward?

Among likely voters

Biden/Harris 49%

Error margin

Trump/Pence 48%

Note: Support for Jorgensen, Hawkins, “Other,” “None,” “Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 12-17, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll among 646 North Carolina likely voters with an error margin of +/- 4.5 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

North Carolina

Presidential contest is in a dead heat in North Carolina

Q: If the presidential election were held today, for whom would you vote/lean toward?

Among likely voters

Biden/Harris 49%

Error margin

Trump/Pence 48%

Note: Support for Jorgensen, Hawkins, “Other,” “None,” “Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 12-17, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll among 646 North Carolina likely voters with an error margin of +/- 4.5 percentage points.

North Carolina is one of two Southern battlegrounds, along with Florida, that the president won in 2016 and that are crucial to his efforts to secure an electoral college majority in two weeks. Four years ago, he won North Carolina by four percentage points, and without its 15 electoral votes this year, his path to victory would become significantly more difficult.

The president’s overall approval rating among registered voters in North Carolina is 47 percent positive and 52 percent negative, with 44 percent saying they strongly disapprove of the way he is handling his job vs. 37 percent who strongly approve. Trump’s approval margin is slightly better in North Carolina than it is nationally. Among likely voters in North Carolina who approve of Trump, 94 percent support Trump for reelection. Among those who disapprove, 95 percent support Biden.

North Carolina’s registered voters have a more positive view of the president’s handling of the economy, with 53 percent approving and 44 percent disapproving. Overall, 42 percent strongly approve of his performance on the economy. Among likely voters who approve of how Trump is handling the economy, 86 percent support Trump. Among those who disapprove, 97 percent support Biden.


Biden arrives to speak at a drive-in campaign rally on Sunday in Durham. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

With the number of coronavirus cases rising across the country, however, the pandemic continues to shadow the president’s election efforts. Trump has said in recent campaign stops that the nation is “rounding the corner” in containing the virus, but the numbers tell the opposite story. A majority of states are seeing increases in cases and hospitalizations are rising in many places.

Registered voters in North Carolina disapprove of the way the president has dealt with the crisis, by 53 percent to 45 percent, with 47 percent saying they strongly disapprove. But overall, they are notably less critical of the president on this issue than the country as a whole. Among likely voters in North Carolina who approve of how Trump is handling the coronavirus outbreak, 95 percent support Trump; among those who disapprove, the same percentage support Biden.

When asked which of the candidates would best handle the two major issues, Trump is slightly more trusted than Biden to deal with the economy, by 51 percent to 45 percent. Biden is narrowly more trusted to handle the coronavirus pandemic, by 51 percent to 43 percent. Biden’s margin on trust on the pandemic is smaller than nationally, while Trump’s margin on the economy is better than his national number.

Biden’s standing is boosted by his support among women, 54 percent of whom support him to Trump’s 43 percent, though that is smaller than his 23-point advantage among women nationally in a recent Post-ABC poll. Men in North Carolina prefer Trump by a 10-point margin; that group splits evenly between the candidates nationwide.

About 9 in 10 supporters of Trump and 9 in 10 supporters of Biden say they are enthusiastic about that support, but there is greater intensity among the president’s backers. Nearly 3 in 4 Trump supporters say they are very enthusiastic compared with about 6 in 10 of Biden supporters.

Interest in the races in North Carolina is extremely high, with 92 percent of registered voters saying they are following the election very or somewhat closely. The same holds for intentions to vote, with 82 percent saying they are certain to vote, 4 percent saying they will probably vote and 9 percent saying they have already voted. Republicans are more likely to say they’re following the campaign “very” closely, 71 percent, compared to 63 percent of Democrats.

According to election statistics, more than 1.5 million voters in North Carolina have already cast their ballots, with far more Democrats than Republicans having done so. The Post-ABC poll shows that 16 percent of Democratic registered voters say they have already voted compared with 3 percent of Republican voters, more of whom are expected to cast ballots on Election Day.


President Trump speaks at a rally on Thursday in Greenville, N.C. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Biden holds a big lead among those who have or plan to vote early, with 6 in 10 saying they support him. Among those who plan to vote on Election Day, over 7 in 10 say they back the president.

The poll finds that nearly 2 in 3 likely voters say they plan to vote before Nov. 3. Compared with the country overall, North Carolina’s early voters heavily prefer in-person early voting over a mail option. Among likely voters who plan to vote early, 74 percent say they plan to vote in person, far higher than the 37 percent of likely voters who planned to vote that way nationwide in a recent Post-ABC poll.

Trump holds a clear lead among White voters in North Carolina by a margin of 58 percent to 39 percent. Exit polls in 2016 showed Trump winning 63 percent of White voters compared with 32 percent for Hillary Clinton.

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Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Whom key groups of voters in North Carolina are supporting for president

Among likely voters

Support

Biden

Support

Trump

Likely voters overall

East Carolina

Raleigh/Durham Triangle

Charlotte area

Piedmont/Central

West Carolina

Note: Support for Jorgensen, Hawkins, “Other,” “None,” “Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 12-17, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll among 646 North Carolina likely voters with an error margin of +/- 4.5 percentage points. Error margins larger among subgroups.

North Carolina

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Whom key groups of voters in North Carolina are supporting for president

Among likely voters

Support Biden

Support Trump

Likely voters overall

East Carolina

Raleigh/Durham Triangle

Charlotte area

Piedmont/Central

West Carolina

Note: Support for Jorgensen, Hawkins, “Other,” “None,” “Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 12-17, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll among 646 North Carolina likely voters with an error margin of +/- 4.5 percentage points. Error margins larger among subgroups.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

North Carolina

Whom key groups of voters in North Carolina are supporting for president

Among likely voters

Support Biden

Support Trump

Likely voters overall

East Carolina

Raleigh/Durham Triangle

Charlotte area

Piedmont/Central

West Carolina

Note: Support for Jorgensen, Hawkins, “Other,” “None,” “Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 12-17, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll among 646 North Carolina likely voters with an error margin of +/- 4.5 percentage points. Error margins larger among subgroups.

Biden holds a lead of more than 50 points among all non-White voters and by 70 points among Black voters (84 percent to 14 percent). But that 70-point margin is less than Hillary Clinton’s 81-point margin over Trump in 2016, according to network exit polls.

Among another targeted group, White women with college degrees, Biden enjoys a lead of about 20 points, while Trump has a single-digit edge among White men with college degrees, within the range of sampling error. Trump has leads of more than 30 points among White men without college degrees and among White women without college degrees.

The president minimally tops Biden among likely voters age 65 and above by 55 percent to 45 percent, which is better than his standing among seniors nationally, where he and Biden are about even. His current margin is not as big as the 23-point margin he enjoyed against Clinton in 2016 in North Carolina.

White evangelical Protestants made up nearly 4 in 10 voters in the state in 2016 and the Post-ABC poll finds Trump maintains strong support with the group, which backs him 82 percent to 17 percent. That is almost identical to his margin over Clinton in 2016. By contrast, other White Christians are roughly divided, 52 percent for Biden and 46 percent for Trump. Voters with no religious affiliation back Biden by an overwhelming 72 percent to 23 percent margin.


Trump leaves after speaking in Greenville. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Regionally, Biden is outperforming Clinton in the Raleigh/Durham Triangle, by 68 percent to 30 percent, a 38-point margin that is larger than Hillary Clinton’s 22-point advantage there in 2016.

Across other regions of the state, support in the current election closely mirrors the 2016 race. Trump is strongest in western North Carolina, leading by a 28-point margin that is almost identical to his 29-point advantage four years ago. Trump has slight edges in Eastern Carolina and the Piedmont/Central region, both roughly similar to 2016.

The Charlotte area is essentially a toss-up with 50 percent backing Biden and 47 percent backing Trump. Clinton won the region by five points in 2016.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 12-17 among a random sample of 795 adults, including 706 registered voters and 646 likely voters in North Carolina, with 75 percent of interviews completed on cellphones and the remainder on landlines. The margin of sampling error for results among both registered voters and likely voters is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the party affiliations of Jo Jorgensen and Howie Hawkins. Jorgensen is the Libertarian nominee, and Hawkins is the Green Party nominee.

Graphics by Daniela Santamariña.

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