Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd leads Democrat Cheri Beasley in the race for U.S. Senate in North Carolina with 48% support among voters to Beasley’s 44%, a new poll from the Trafalgar Group finds.
The poll was conducted Oct. 16-19 among 1,081 respondents. It has a margin of error of 2.9%.
Beasley and Budd are running for the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, who is retiring.
A previous East Carolina University poll found Budd with an even larger margin over his Democratic opponent, at 50% to 44%.
In that poll, Budd showed strong performance among women voters. Beasley still holds an advantage there, at 48% to 46%, but the margin has slipped significantly. She previously led among women voters 52% to 41%, according to ECU polling.
The tight race is enough to give Democrats hope that they can swing a key pick-up in a state former President Donald Trump carried in 2020.
Democrats hold a slight edge in voter registration in the state, with 2.3 million registered Democrats to just over 2 million GOP voters, according to the most recent L2 voter data. But non-partisan voters outnumber both political parties in the state, with nearly 2.4 million no party-affiliated registered voters.
Early voting is already underway in North Carolina. As of Wednesday, more than 42,000 voters had already cast a mail ballot in the race. Of those, more than 21,000 were cast by Democrats, just over 14,000 by unaffiliated voters and just over 7,000 by Republicans, according to the L2 data.
Early voting opened Thursday morning and will continue until Nov. 5.
Throughout the early voting period, or “one-stop early voting,” 359 sites will be open throughout the state, up 17% from the 2018 Midterm Election when North Carolina had 307 sites open, according to the State Board of Elections.
In-person early voting remains the most popular means of casting a ballot in North Carolina, with 65% of the total ballots in the 2020 General Election cast during one-stop early voting.