Ahead of rally, Budd powers to front of US Senate primary

FILE - U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., waves to the crowd during a campaign event at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C., Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Khadejeh Nikouyeh/News & Record via AP, File)

RALEIGH — Ted Budd has drawn on racing analogies in his campaign for the U.S. Senate. His announcement video featured a Monster Truck titled the “Liberal Agenda Crusher” and his grassroots volunteers are called his “pit crew.” In that vein, his recent run to the top of the field could be considering have a setup for the long run – a strategy NASCAR greats such as David Pearson and Mark Martin used to great effect.

In the past two weeks three separate polls all have shown Budd leading the Republican primary. The polls counter a media narrative that Budd was struggling against former Gov. Pat McCrory.

Last week, the North Carolina Values Coalition released a poll showing him ahead by three points.

This week, two polls both show Budd ahead by double-digits. The wave of polling boosts Budd heading into the weekend rally in Johnston County with former President Donald Trump headlining.

A poll from Emerson College and The Hill found Budd with 38%, followed by McCrory at 22% Mark Walker at 9%. 23% of the respondents were undecided.

In the poll’s release, Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling noted, “Budd and McCrory are evenly split with 31% apiece among suburban voters; however, rural voters break for Budd 42% to McCrory’s 11%.”

A day later, Club for Growth Action, the PAC which has boosted Budd with millions in outside spending, released its own poll in the race. That poll showed Budd breaking 40% in the race with 31% for McCrory. Walker placed third with 11% and Marjorie K. Eastman earned 3% of the vote with just 11% undecided.

Club for Growth PAC was pleased with the result.

“It’s clear that Ted Budd has taken the lead, and that voters recognize Pat McCrory is an anti-Trump RINO. President Trump’s rally this weekend will boost Budd’s momentum and remind voters that Budd is a principled and proven conservative endorsed by Club for Growth PAC and President Trump, while Pat McCrory has spent his entire career siding with liberals,” said the organization’s president, David McIntosh, in a statement.

Additionally, the Emerson College poll also included a general election preview with each of the candidates. Budd performed the best against expected Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley.

Budd led Beasley 50% to 43%, Walker Beasley 47% to 42%, and McCrory trailed Beasley 43% to 41%.