After months of holding virtual campaign rallies and only holding in-person events within a short drive of his home, Joe Biden‘s lead in a key battleground state has diminished.
North Carolina is one of the states that Biden would need in order to win in November, but he hasn’t given it much attention. President Trump, on the other hand, has been traveling extensively throughout his campaign, and has stopped in North Carolina numerous times in recent months.
In the last 44 years only one Democratic presidential candidate has won North Carolina: Barack Obama, in 2008. Polls in the state do show that voters feel that Biden would have handled the COVID pandemic better than Trump, but that is really the only positive news for the former vice president.
As the final stretch of the presidential election campaign season begins, Biden has finally emerged from his home and increased his travel schedule. He had originally said that he would not visit Kenosha, Wisconsin, but changed his mind after looking at the polls and seeing President Trump make a stop in the riot-consumed city.
In Kenosha, Biden met with the family of Jacob Blake, suspected rapist and victim of a police shooting.
A Shift in the Polling
Recent polls show the race tightening in North Carolina, and in many other battleground states. FiveThirtyEight’s latest polling average shows Biden barely leading Trump: 48.6% to 46.8%, well within the margin of error.
Compared to other battleground states, voters in North Carolina are far less dissatisfied with Trump’s response to COVID. A Fox News poll shows that 50% of likely voters believe Biden could handle the pandemic better, while 41% believe Trump handled it better than Biden could. This is much better than states like Wisconsin, where Biden leads Trump 52% to 35%.
Michael Bitzer, a politics professor at Catawba College in Salisbury, discussed the polling surrounding Trump’s COVID response and the possible impact on the election, stating: “The president has suffered a bit of a hit here on coronavirus, but not nearly as big as in other states. I’m not sure that alone puts this state in the presidential race into blue territory.”
As of July 27th, President Trump or Vice President Pence have visited North Carolina five times. Donald Trump Jr. will also be holding a Make America Great Again Rally in the state on September 10th.
The Trump campaign has spent millions of dollars on ads in North Carolina, and has 120 paid staffers in the state, making more than 6 million in-person and virtual voter contacts.
The Biden campaign has not knocked on a single door in the entire country to talk to voters, instead opting to leave campaign literature at people’s doors. The campaign has held virtual events, and spent a portion of its recent $45 million ad buy in North Carolina.
Many experts have stated that the difference between the two campaigns’ on-the-ground approach was reminiscent of the mistakes made by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
“In 2016, it didn’t feel like the Clinton campaign took the state seriously, even though they could have really made some inroads and made it a very tight race here. Biden is taking the state seriously, but, like last time, it just doesn’t feel like they have a very strong ground game,” Bitzer said.
Last week, Biden vowed to visit North Carolina, stating: “I promise you, I’m coming.” Will it be too late for the former vice president to make up for his mistakes?