A new Civitas poll that shows Cheri Beasley and Ted Budd tied is the latest in a string of indications that North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race has reached toss-up status.

The poll was released Thursday at a briefing by the conservative John Locke Foundation. It showed Beasley and Budd with 42.3 percent each with 12.6 percent undecided. Libertarian candidate Shannon Bray was at 1.9 percent. Green Party candidate Matthew Hoh, in his first poll after being added to the ballot, drew 0.8 percent. The margin of error is 3.9 percent.

The poll of 615 likely voters also found a shift in the generic ballot toward Democrats as well as a small bump in President Joe Biden’s approval rating from 32.9 percent in June to 38.7 percent.

In his presentation on the poll, NC State University political science professor Andy Taylor said it’s an increase but still dismal.

“This is an improvement for President Biden even though he’s wildly underwater,” Taylor said Thursday. “What can you say? He went from very bad to quite bad.”

Biden’s low approval ratings and historical trends that run against the president’s party in this cycle have driven predictions that the GOP will likely retain the seat being vacated by retiring senator Richard Burr in the GOP.

That started to change earlier this month when two new polls showing Beasley ahead shifted the polling aggregate.

In their combined polling analysis, FiveThirtyEight shows Beasley slightly ahead and Decision Desk shows Budd with a small lead. In both cases the differences are well within the margin of error.

Taylor said one key metric that showed why the race is tightening is that for the first time Beasley has moved ahead of Budd with seniors.

The trajectory of the race has caught the attention of national media as well, with the National Journal’s power rankings calling the race a toss-up, pointing to Budd’s struggles in fundraising in the crucial stretch ahead of early voting. Beasley outraised Budd more than three to one in the last quarter.

The direction in North Carolina is part of a national trend that has increased the chance of Democrats maintaining their Senate majority.

On Wednesday, Cook Political Report shifted races in Pennsylvania and Colorado in favor of Democrats and increased the chances that the party could retain control of the chamber.

“Right now, we see the range between Democrats picking up one seat and Republicans gaining three. However, the most probable may be a net change of zero or a GOP pickup of one to two,” Cook’s senate analyst Jessica Taylor wrote.

Last February, Cook changed its rating in the North Carolina race from a toss-up to leaning toward Budd. A fresh analysis of the race is set for next week.

Ads and tours

Both candidates have been on the road this week.

Budd has been traveling to events with law enforcement organizations and recently picked up the endorsement of the NC State Troopers Association.

At an event in Raleigh he pitched himself as the law and order candidate and said it’s time to “push back against false narratives” about law enforcement.

Beasley is continuing to work her way through small towns and rural communities, including a recent swing through coastal counties.

With a clear fundraising advantage, her campaign has increased its on-air presence over the month with ads on health care costs and criticisms of Budd’s recent votes in Congress.

Budd was among a handful of House Republicans who sought unsuccessfully to amend the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, calling for funds for the Internal Revenue Service to be moved to border security.

Earlier this month, he launched his first major ad buy since the primary, criticizing the Biden administration’s handling of inflation.

This story was originally published online at NC Policy Watch.

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