As for the 2022 North Carolina general election for the U.S. Senate, it’s too early to say more. But the Senate primary vote in March is starting to take shape and the contours of the races are taking shape.
Campaign finance reports show that the election that could determine control of the US Senate is going to be costly.
David McLennan, professor of political science at Meredith College and director of the Meredith Poll, notes that the top five candidates – three Republicans and two Democrats – each said they raised more than $ 1 million in campaign funds by mid-year. . “This is the first evidence that this could be the most expensive US Senate race in the history of the state,” he said.
But McLennan noted that the dollars raised can be a wobbly indicator of the enthusiasm generated. “The question remains whether a strong fundraiser will translate into strong support among primary voters in 2022,” he said.
There are many unknowns ahead regarding the economy and the pandemic, but some aspects of the Senate race are clear. Campaign finance reports show that while 14 Senate candidates said they had raised funds, the race to succeed retired Sen. Richard Burr has effectively narrowed to five candidates. On the Republican side, Rep. Ted Budd, former Congressman Mark Walker and former Charlotte Governor and Mayor Pat McCrory. On the Democratic side, these are former state Supreme Court chief justice Cheri Beasley and state senator Jeff Jackson from Mecklenburg County.
Democrat Erica Smith, a former North Carolina state senator, makes a second nomination for her party after losing to Cal Cunningham in 2020, but she reported just 55,814 $ in cash and this is unlikely to be a factor in March.
Among the top contenders, the second quarter reports give clues to the initial dynamics of the race. McCrory lifted more than Budd in the second quarter. The former governor raised $ 1.24 million while Budd raised more than $ 700,000 from outside contributors and loaned $ 250,000 to his campaign.
This discrepancy suggests that former President Trump’s endorsement of Budd – and his hit against McCrory as a loser in two statewide races – might not be as helpful or as damaging as some, y including me, were waiting for him. in the second quarter of most small donors and has nearly a million dollars. Walker, a Baptist minister and staunch Trump supporter, will continue to hamper Budd’s ability to lock down Trump’s base.
On the Democratic side, Jackson, after a strong first quarter where he raised nearly $ 1.3 million, slipped into the second quarter as Beasley entered the race in April. The former chief justice raised $ 1.27 million against Jackson’s $ 719,000. Both candidates have shown strong support from small donors, but the question now is who will win the big donors.
J. Michael Bitzer, a politics professor at Catawba College who studies elections in North Carolina, said big donors are on the sidelines for now as they assess the most viable campaigns. He added that the Democratic and Republican National Committees could stay out of those primaries, unlike 2020 when the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee backed Cunningham ahead of the primary vote.
“I haven’t seen anything to say that either side is going to start picking a side,” Bitzer said.
Ultimately, Bitzer said, the primaries will be about voters as much as candidates, especially on the Republican side. He said: “The bigger question is: who is the Republican primary voter?
If Trump’s hard-line supporters decide on the Republican primary, he said, the candidate might bring out not independent voters, but Republican-leaning voters in the general election.
On the Democrats’ side, participation will also be crucial. Jackson has a social media presence and a populist style that could increase turnout and Beasley, with a chance to become North Carolina’s first black senator, could increase turnout for black and female voters.
Associate Opinion Writer Ned Barnett can be reached at 919-829-4512, nbarnett @ newsobserver.com