North Carolinians may be turning on President Trump, which could make the state a key battleground in the 2020 presidential election, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling. The poll also forecasts a favorable outcome for Governor Roy Cooper, with former governor Pat McCrory his strongest potential opponent two years out. Cooper, the polls shows, is in much better shape that McCrory and Bev Purdue were at similar points in their tenures.
The survey by the Dem-leaning firm—the first to find Trump ahead among the state’s Republicans, way back in July 2015—shows that North Carolina voters narrowly disapprove of Trump, with 50 percent believing he’s doing a bad job, while 46 percent approve of the president. Trump beat Hillary Clinton by nearly four points in 2016.
Basically, were the election held today, Trump would be in trouble if he faced another old white guy, but he could crawl to victory if he faced Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, or Cory Booker, though this likely owes to name recognition. The most important thing here is that Trump struggles to get above 46 percent.
Things are looking pretty good for Governor Cooper, the only elected official in the state with a positive approval rating. Of five potential Republican challengers, Cooper’s closest match would be against Pat McCrory, which the poll predicts would shake out to 45–41 in Cooper’s favor. Lieutenant Governor Dan Forrest, who is almost certain to mount a challenge, looks like he might get his ass kicked; PPP has him trailing Cooper 47–35.
This bodes well for Cooper, who finally gets a meaningful veto after Democrats broke Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate in the midterm elections. However, some observers think Cooper’s approval ratings could dwindle if he actually has to make hard choices this session.
The General Assembly returned today, reappointing Republican Tim Moore as House Speaker and Phil Berger as Senate leader. Lawmakers took up no substantive business and will reconvene January 30.
The PPP survey also notes that a plurality of 48 percent of respondents think there should be a new election in the Ninth Congressional District, where Republican Mark Harris, whose campaign is currently under investigation for voter fraud and potentially tampering with absentee ballots, is currently ahead.