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NC-Sen: Close Race, Lots of Undecideds With A Week To Go

We’re about to hit a patch of primaries in May and June, with the first set just a week away. Primaries in Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina occur on May 4. All three have contested Senate primaries, and all of them bear watching. But the public, at least in North Carolina, doesn’t appear all that engaged. A Survey USA poll shows nobody in the Democratic primary for Senate over 23%, and candidates would need 50%+1 to avoid a runoff:

In a Democratic Primary for United States Senator from North Carolina held today, 04/26/10, 8 days until votes are counted, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and former State Senator Cal Cunningham advance to a June runoff election, according to this latest SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WRAL-TV Raleigh.

Today, Marshall gets 23% of the vote; Cunningham gets 19%. Attorney Ken Lewis gets 10%; Accountant Susan Harris gets 7%. 2 other candidates, 2008 candidate Marcus Williams and minister Ann Worthy each get 4%. 1 in 3 voters are undecided. Any outcome remains possible.

Those lesser candidates on the ballot won’t get those numbers, and the undecideds will get allocated somewhere. But all signs point to a Marshall-Cunningham runoff. Marshall just went on the air with ads, while Cunningham has been up for two weeks, and this has pulled him closer. A Public Policy Polling survey shows the same dynamic.

Marshall gets 26% this week to 23% for Cunningham. It’s clearly become a two person race as the rest of the candidates are languishing in single digits. Kenneth Lewis is at 7%, Marcus Williams at 4%, and Susan Harris and Ann Worthy at 3%.

34% of voters remained undecided and even that number doesn’t tell the whole story. 40% of the folks who do currently support a candidate say they could change their minds between now and next Tuesday. So more than 60% of the electorate is either completely undecided or open to a flip, showing just how fluid the race is.

A runoff would happen several weeks after the primary election, in June. Obviously either campaign would like to lock up the race and turn their attention to Richard Burr, but I don’t see that happening.

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David Dayen

David Dayen