Skip to Main Content

New N.C. Poll: Biden and Trump Tied

Democratic Senate challenger leads Republican incumbent

Election 2020 graphic with outline of state imposed on background image of capital building


Contacts for media: UMass Lowell: Christine Gillette, 978-758-4664 or or Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944,

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are deadlocked in the race for North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes, according to a new poll released today. 

The independent, nonpartisan poll by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion found that Trump and Biden are tied with 47 percent each of likely voters’ support, with minor party candidates at 3 percent and 2 percent of North Carolina likely voters undecided. 

White voters in North Carolina support Trump, 57 percent to 39 percent while Black voters overwhelmingly support Biden, 75 percent to 16 percent. More on voters’ support by gender, age, party and education is available at

Trump’s approval rating reflects the divided nature of the North Carolina electorate: 49 percent approve of the job he is doing as president and 51 percent disapprove. Among those who approve, 33 percent strongly approve and 16 percent somewhat approve. Forty-two percent of voters who disapprove of Trump’s job performance said they strongly disapprove. Ninety-four percent of Democrats polled disapprove of President Trump’s job performance, including 82 percent who strongly disapprove. Among independents, 58 percent disapprove of his job performance, including 39 percent who strongly disapprove. Among Republicans, only 9 percent disapprove, 64 percent strongly approve and 28 percent somewhat approve of the job he is doing.

Asked about their opinions on whether either candidate and their allies are trying to cheat to win the election, fewer than half of North Carolina likely voters said that Biden and his allies have been cheating “a great deal” (27 percent) or “somewhat” (20 percent), while more than half said that Trump and his allies have been cheating, either “a great deal” (36 percent) or “somewhat” (17 percent). The perception of partisan cheating by Trump among Democrats is exceptionally high: 69 percent of Democrats think Trump and his allies are cheating “a great deal,” compared to 50 percent of Republicans who think Biden and his allies are cheating “a great deal,” which could raise questions about the legitimacy of the election as election results start coming in on Nov. 3. 

The poll also found that 53 percent of North Carolina likely voters feel that the winner of the 2020 presidential election should be the one to appoint a new Supreme Court justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Forty-seven percent said that the sitting president should appoint her successor. 

In the race for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat, Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham is leading Republican incumbent Thom Tillis by six points, 49 percent to 43 percent, with 7 percent of likely voters undecided and 1 percent planning to vote for a different candidate. This race is in the national spotlight as a possible flip for Democrats, who are seeking four seats to gain control of the Senate. In addition to leading overall and among Democrats, Cunningham is leading among independents 41 percent to 36 percent and has the support of 11 percent of Republican-identifying voters. 

“North Carolina’s trend toward Republicans seems to be slowing in 2020. With the presidential race tied and Cal Cunningham leading the Senate race, North Carolina voters are worried about the safety of their schools and see the Supreme Court nomination as a distraction. North Carolina voters are taking out their frustration on Sen. Thom Tillis. The message to Tillis seems to be, ‘Why move so fast in response to one death and so slow in response to over 200,000?’” said John Cluverius, associate director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and assistant professor of political science.

In the run for governor, incumbent Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper leads his Republican challenger Dan Forest 54 percent to 41 percent. Cooper’s support includes ideologically moderate voters, who make up nearly a third (32 percent) of North Carolina’s electorate. Cooper is ahead with liberals, 93 percent to 4 percent while Forest leads among conservatives, 74 percent to 21 percent.

The poll also found the following among likely North Carolina voters:

  • A majority (57 percent) think it’s not safe to re-open local public schools for face-to-face instruction (30 percent say definitely not safe, 27 percent say probably not safe, 28 percent say probably safe, 16 percent say definitely safe). 
  • Asked who they think will win the 2020 presidential election, 47 percent said Trump and 37 percent said Biden. 
  • Sixty-six percent said they think the country is on the wrong track while 34 percent said the country is headed in the right direction.
  • North Carolina is a no-fault absentee balloting state that also has an extensive in-person early voting program. Among likely voters, 28 percent say they plan to vote by mail, 43 percent say they plan to vote early in person, while 29 percent plan to vote in person on Nov. 3. 
  • North Carolina is one of a handful of states where voting has already started. Among likely voters, 8 percent said they had already voted. Biden leads Trump among those who said they have already voted, 77 percent to 21 percent. Biden also leads Trump (72 percent to 23 percent) among those who plan to vote by mail, the candidates are tied at 49 percent among those who plan to vote early and Trump leads Biden 68 percent to 23 percent among those who plan to vote on Election Day.

Detailed poll results – including analysis and methodology – are available at The nonpartisan poll is independently funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion, which conducts public-opinion polling at the state and national levels. The nationally recognized center uses the latest technology and highest standards in its surveys and is a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research’s Transparency Initiative. The center’s events and polls on political and social issues provide unique opportunities for civic engagement, experiential learning and research.  

The poll of 921 likely North Carolina voters was independently funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, which has more than 1,000 students and alumni who hail from the Tar Heel State. The survey was designed and analyzed by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and fielded by YouGov from Sept. 18 through Sept. 25. It has an adjusted margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent. Full poll methodology is available at

In addition to the survey of likely voters in North Carolina, the Center for Public Opinion also released polls in two other Super Tuesday states. The findings include: 

  • In New Hampshire, former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by eight points, 52 percent to 44 percent. In the races for U.S. senator and governor, both incumbents lead by double digits. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen leads Republican challenger Corky Messner 56 percent to 37 percent. Gov. Chris Sununu leads Democratic challenger Dan Feltes 60 percent to 34 percent. (Poll of 657 likely New Hampshire voters conducted Sept. 17 through Sept. 25 with an adjusted margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percent.)
  • In Texas, Trump has an apparent lead of 3 points over Biden, 49 percent to 46 percent of likely voters. In the race for U.S. Senate, Republican incumbent John Cornyn is up 50 percent to 40 percent over Democratic challenger MJ Hegar. (Poll of 882 likely Texas voters conducted Sept. 18 through Sept. 25 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.)

UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.