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North Carolina 2020: Biden and Trump in Dead Heat

A new Emerson College/ Nexstar Media poll of North Carolina likely voters finds the presidential election in a dead heat in the Tar Heel state. Fifty-percent (50%) of voters are breaking for former Vice-President Joe Biden, while 49% plan to vote for President Donald Trump. One percent of voters say they are undecided (n=717, MM, likely voters, September 16-18, 2020, +/- 3.6%). Back in August, the Emerson Poll had Trump ahead by two-points, 48% to 46%, with 6% undecided.


Voters are split on Trump’s approval: 49% approve and 49% disapprove of the job he is doing as President.

Biden holds a strong lead with younger voters, taking 70% of the vote from those under 44 years old. Trump leads with voters over 45 years old with 61% of the vote. Biden leads in urban/city areas 65% to 32% and in suburban areas 57% to 42% while Trump leads in rural areas 68% to 31%. 

Trump leads with voters holding a high school degree or less, 67% to 33%, while Biden leads all groups with higher education, including 54% of those with some college and 61% of those with a college degree or higher.

Trump leads unaffiliated voters 55% to 43%, while 90% of Democrats support Joe Biden and 89% of Republicans support Donald Trump.

The plurality of North Carolina voters (45%) say they plan to vote in person on election day, 35% say they will vote early in person, and 20% plan to vote by mail. Biden leads with mail-in voters 71% to 27% and with early-in person voters 60% to 40% while Trump leads with those planning to go to the polls on election day 64% to 34%.

In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Cal Cunningham holds a 49% to 43% lead over Republican incumbent Senator Thom Tillis, 8% are undecided.

Additional results will be released on Friday, September 25th.


Caller ID

The North Carolina Emerson College poll was conducted September 16-18, 2020. The sample consisted of likely Democratic, Republican, and Independent voters, n=717, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3.6 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, education, party affiliation, race and region based on 2016 voter turnout modeling. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown, ethnicity, and region carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines (n=208), SMS-to-web texts (n=173), and an online panel provided by MTurk (n=337).


Key Takeaways
  • Biden leads Trump by one point in North Carolina
  • Trump leads unaffiliated voters by twelve points
  • Only one-percent of voters are undecided in the presidential race, compared to six-percent in August
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