Early voters wait to cast their ballots at the South Regional Library polling location in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

The latest ECU Poll released today shows Joe Biden continuing to lead President Donal Trump among likely voters in North Carolina.

When 1,155 potential voters were surveyed Oct. 15-18, half said they intend to vote for Biden, versus 47% who favored Trump. One percent said they were undecided, and another 1% said they intended to vote for some other candidate.

The results closely mirrored an ECU poll conducted in early October, which showed Biden with a 4-point lead. (The poll has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.)

Why it matters: North Carolina, with its 15 electoral votes, is one of several states won by Trump in 2016 that now appear to be leaning away from the president.

[Find an early-voting location in Mecklenburg County]

Most notable was Biden’s apparent lead among suburban voters. In 2016, exit polls indicated that Trump won 60% of the state’s suburban voters, versus 36% for Hillary Clinton. Now four years later, Trump and Biden are tied in the suburbs, each 49% of likely voters. Among suburban women, Biden leads Trump 54% to 43%.

If that pattern holds until election day, Biden has a “strong shot at winning North Carolina,” said Peter Francia, director of the ECU Center for Survey Research.

Early turnout

There is little doubt that voters this year are motivated. As of 5 p.m. Monday, more than 2 million of North Carolina’s 7.3 million registered voters had cast early ballots. More than 1.4 million of those votes were cast at early voting sites. Similar patterns of early voting had been seen in other swing states, including Florida and Texas.

Whether those early-voting patterns will favor one candidate over another is not yet clear, political analysts have said.

In North Carolina, for example, the UCU Poll found a high level of excitement among Trump supporters. Nearly three out (74%) said they were “very excited” to vote (or to have voted). By comparison, 65% of Biden supporters fall into the “very excited” category.

[Video: Why I vote — Ron Ancrum]

“In an extremely competitive election, voter turnout is often the decisive factor,” he said. “…That excitement advantage could well translate into a voter turnout advantage (for Trump). If so, Republican candidates, from the top to the bottom of the ballot, could win in these hyper-competitive races.”

Despite trailing Biden overall in North Carolina, Trump continues to hold a commanding lead among the state’s rural voters (57% to 39%) as well as among White voters without a four-year college degree (65% to 32%).

Other ECU Poll results

  • In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham and Republican incumbent Thom Tillis are locked in a virtual tie, 48% to 47% respectively.
  • Governor Roy Cooper leads Republican challenger Dan Forest 53% to 44%.
  • Republican Mark Robinson leads Democrat Yvonne Lewis Holley 47% to 42% for lieutenant governor.

Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.

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