Tillis or Cunningham: Which candidate is receiving more search traffic?


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — One of the most competitive Senate races in the 2020 election cycle is happening in North Carolina. 

Most consider North Carolina to be a “toss up” state, meaning either candidate has a good chance of winning. 

Search data from Google Trends shows it is clear voters are doing their homework before heading to the polls.  

In the race for North Carolina’s Senate seat, incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R) holds an overall lead in the amount of search traffic. 

However, Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham has been picking up interest over the last few weeks.

Screen Capture from a Google Trends report

During the week of Super Tuesday, searches for Cunningham skyrocketed.

But then lockdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. 

Political interests were pushed aside as people were adapting to challenges that came with the pandemic. Interest faded over the months of April through June.   

Political interests were pushed aside as people were adapting to challenges that came with the pandemic. 

Those political interests faded through June.  

As November approaches, searches for Tillis have steadily increased while interest in Cunningham appears to peak when there’s a major political event – like following the latest debate.  

Related searches for Cunningham include information on his platform. 

For Tillis, related queries include fellow Sen. Richard Burr.

But, candidates aside, what are the issues driving voters to the polls? 

Top concerns include how the government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Tillis has supported the Paycheck Protection Program and Cunningham has pushed for the Senate to pass more coronavirus aid relief.  

Economy, healthcare, and crime are also top issues for voters across the country, according to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center. 

A major demographic, Latinos, could also be a key factor in this year’s Senate race.

Although North Carolina has a small Latino voter population, it is possible their efforts could be enough to elect a Democratic senator.  

In a TV ad produced by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a political group looking to elect more Democratic senators, the organization highlighted “Senator Thom Tillis’ record of putting his corporate special interest campaign donors ahead of what’s right for North Carolinians.” 

The ad is part of the committee’s previously announced television and digital paid investments in key battleground states. 

“For Thom Tillis, it’s about the money. Tillis raked in more campaign cash from Big Pharma than any other Senator…”  


Tillis is firing back by holding his experience over Cunningham.

In the first Senate debate on Sept. 14, Tillis said his challenger was “irresponsible” after Cunningham said he would be “hesitant” to take a COVID-19 vaccine if it were approved by the end of this year. 

Cunningham said under normal circumstances he would take the vaccine but political and financial influences on the COVID-19 vaccine make him hesitant.

In a recent poll conducted by East Carolina University, Tillis and Cunningham are both tied at 44 percent.  

 The results show another 9 percent undecided — with the remainder indicating support for a candidate other than Tillis or Cunningham. 

When the poll asked a follow-up question to undecided voters about whether they leaned towards Tillis or Cunningham, support was again evenly split.  

Nexstar Broadcasting will host an exclusive multi-market live telecast of a debate between the Democratic and Republican candidates for the United States Senate from North Carolina, incumbent Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and former North Carolina State Senator Cal Cunningham. 

U.S. Senate Debate – North Carolina” will take place on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. ET, at the studios of WNCN/CBS 17 in Raleigh and be telecast throughout the state.   

The U.S. Senate Debate will be carried on the following stations and websites:

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